/ Rugby

Cruden turns to Carter ahead of France battle

Updated: Tuesday, 18 Oct 2011 21:24

Aaron Cruden - "Dan is always floating around the hotel and he has been really positive, always smiling and laughing with the boys."
Aaron Cruden - "Dan is always floating around the hotel and he has been really positive, always smiling and laughing with the boys."

Aaron Cruden says he will "pick the brains" of New Zealand's absent superstar Dan Carter as the All Blacks prepare to tackle World Cup final opponents France.

<notforsyndication>Watch live coverage of the Rugby World Cup Final on Sunday from 8.30am on RTÉ Two and www.RTÉ.ie (RoI)</notforsyndication>

Cruden was called into the All Blacks squad earlier this month after fly-half Carter suffered a tournament-ending groin injury.

And he has made an impressive fist of things, starring in Sunday's emphatic semi-final triumph against Australia when the host nation booked a place in next weekend's final.

"Dan is always floating around the hotel and he has been really positive, always smiling and laughing with the boys," Cruden said.

"He sent me a text before the semi-final wishing me all the best.

"And I will definitely be going to him and just asking him what he thinks about certain things this week and picking his brains so I can be as well prepared as I can, come kick-off time on Sunday."

The spotlight will be on Cruden and company like never before, with them expected to see off a French side that has already lost twice in the competition and were fortunate to beat 14-man Wales by a point three days ago.

And Cruden added: "It is really important that you build throughout the week, but that you are not over-thinking about the game and you really find time for that balance.

"I would like to think it's just the beginning of another week, just going through and doing the normal things for me.

"It is about making sure I am really clear on my role throughout the week and just building so that when it comes to kick-off time I am ready to go."

New Zealand are fully aware of France's ability to gatecrash their World Cup party.

Les Bleus knocked out the All Blacks after a stunning semi-final comeback at Twickenham in 1999, and then four years ago they claimed a quarter-final victory in Cardiff.

"They have a history of making life difficult for us at Rugby World Cups," All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith acknowledged.

"They have been particularly good against us.

"I can remember back to 1999. We played France at the closing game of Athletic Park in Wellington and I think the score was 54-7 (in New Zealand's favour).

"Then, two months later, it was a massive victory to France in the semi-final.

"They have a history of turning results on their head, and I think that helps us in terms of our complacency. Everyone in our camp knows what it's going to be like and how tough it is going to be.

"They have a lot of ability right across the park and have some very good attacking structures."

Sunday's final will witness the final game in charge for New Zealand's revered coaching triumvirate of Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Smith.

Henry is stepping down from the head coach's role, Smith will take up a post with Waikato, while Hansen is among the favourites to gain promotion as Henry's successor.

"I think it sunk it a while ago that whatever happened this was my last week," Smith added.

"It was a special feeling in the box with about five minutes to go (in Sunday's semi-final), knowing that it was going to go another week.

"You get an opportunity to be in a final, that is all you want. One team is going to come away as World Cup winners on Sunday, and you just want that opportunity."

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