NRL contact injuries a lesson: Cruden

Daniel Gilhooly
Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden is wary of injuries sustained by contact work in training

Chiefs star Aaron Cruden says the injury issues that have begun striking the NRL are a lesson to Super Rugby players when they return to contact training.

Former All Blacks five-eighth Cruden was among more than 100 of New Zealand's elite players to rejoin his teammates on Monday as the five Kiwi Super Rugby teams began preparations for their revamped competition.

Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off on June 13 when Cruden's Chiefs face the Highlanders in Dunedin, beginning two months of domestic round-robin action.

While excited to be part of what will be the world's first rugby union action since the coronavirus outbreak disrupted world sport, Cruden said it is critical the players learn lessons from another code across the Tasman.

In recent days Warriors pair Leeson Ah Mau (pectoral) and Jazz Tevaga (knee) have suffered serious injuries soon after returning to contact work, along with Bulldogs winger Marcelo Montoya (hamstring).

"That's probably the biggest challenge for a lot of contact sports and unfortunately it's the nature of the beast," Cruden said.

"You'll do a calf injury probably when you feel it's not warranted.

"I think for us with it, with the target being four weeks time for the first game, we can sort of work backwards from there."

Players were briefed on COVID-19 safety protocols on Monday before the Chiefs' trainers laid out the need for players treat the next month as a mini pre-season, with graduated contact work.

Cruden expected the all-Kiwi competition to be a "humdinger" based on the intensity that usually accompanies derby games.

The 50-Test veteran confirmed he had been granted an extension to stay in New Zealand by Japanese club Kobelco Steelers, who will gain the services of the 31-year-old at the completion of Super Rugby Aotearoa in mid-August.

It shapes as Cruden's swansong in New Zealand, with the former Montpellier playmaker revealing he is closing to confirming another offshore club contract.