Aaron Cruden tells NZ rugby bosses of his embarrassment at missing the All Blacks flight, resulting in his dumping for two Tests.
Embarrassed All Blacks five-eighth Aaron Cruden could face further disciplinary action after missing his flight to Argentina after a night out on the town.
Cruden has been banned from the rest of the Rugby Championship by team management.
In an astonishing revelation, New Zealand Rugby officials said world class playmaker Cruden failed to make it to Auckland Airport for the flight on Sunday morning.
He had joined teammates for a meal and drinks on Saturday night, but his movements after that are unclear.
Coach Steve Hansen deemed the 25-year-old’s actions unacceptable and said he won’t be considered for the Tests in La Plata on Saturday, or the Test against South Africa in Johannesburg a week later.
“We are extremely disappointed at Aaron’s actions which are out of character. He is embarrassed at his actions,” Hansen said on the All Blacks twitter account.
NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says he fully supports the decision.
“It’s fair to say we’re disappointed in his behaviour. We do set very high standards in this team and everyone understands those standards and the expectations that go with them,” he said.
He spoke to a distraught Cruden on Sunday who admitted having let himself and his teammates down.
“I think the word `gutted’ is probably a reasonable one.”
Tew says team management are still working out what players did on Saturday night so couldn’t say if there will be disciplinary action against any other players, or if Cruden will face further punishment.
A more formal disciplinary process was likely against the 35-Test veteran, who last year signed a lucrative ambassador deal with All Blacks sponsor AIG.
“An incident like this with Aaron is very out of character,” Tew said.
“But we have treated it on its merits. There is a very high threshold of expectation within this team.”
At this stage, he said, Cruden will be eligible for next month’s third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane.
It is unclear if he is free to play provincial rugby for Manawatu before then.
The night out took place after the team’s original flight on Saturday afternoon was delayed for mechanical reasons.
Tew says some players went home to families that night or out with friends while Cruden joined teammates at The Zookeeper’s Son pub and restaurant.
Cruden has established himself in the No.10 jersey in the last two seasons, boosted by ongoing injury problems for veteran Dan Carter.
He started six of the All Blacks’ seven Tests this year, kicking 69 points to lift his Test tally to 256, the fifth-most by an All Black.
Team management called up Tom Taylor, who made three Test appearances last year, as his replacement.
Beauden Barrett is the probable starting No.10 in Argentina, with Colin Slade likely to earn promotion to the reserves bench.
The unbeaten All Blacks will secure the Rugby Championship title if victorious in La Plata.