All Blacks and Chiefs first five Aaron Cruden says that he wants to play every Super Rugby game he can for the Chiefs but admits that laying off in training last week helped him through the match against the Force.
Cruden played for 80 minutes against the Western Force Pukekohe on Friday but was only expecting a brief spell towards the end of the match.
The first five was named on the bench for the Force but after Gareth Anscombe was forced to withdraw Cruden went on to kick the Chiefs to a 22-21 victory through a conversion and five penalty goals from a perfect 6/6 with his kicks.
Super Rugby's leading point scorer Gareth Anscombe has held the kicking duties so far this season so this past weekend was the first time that Cruden had the kicking duties aside from one shot against the Sharks two weeks ago.
"I woke up to a text from Renns (head coach Dave Rennie) this morning. He told me that Gareth unfortunately had broken his foot so I was starting," Cruden told Fairfax NZ News.
Rennie said that Anscombe had been sent for an x-ray on Tuesday as he was complaining about a sore foot but it was not initially picked up.
Anscombe's foot was sore again after Wednesday's training and worse during Thursday's captain's run so he was sent for an MRI scan which revealed that he had a fractured metatarsal bone.
Had Cruden come off the bench and not started it would have been the first match in two seasons that he had not started - and played for almost every minute.
Cruden was however happy to start the match as the rest during the week allowed him to recover from some injury niggles.
"I was preparing all week to get a bit of game time - I didn't know how much coming off the bench - but to get 80 minutes was a bit of a surprise."
Cruden is proud of his unbroken record of being named in the Chiefs starting line up and said the light training he had done during the week helped.
"I felt going into tonight pretty good and even though it was a pretty heavy track I felt a lot sharper than I probably have over the last few weeks.
"I think if I continue to look after the body then I will really be able to contribute to what we're trying to do as a team.
"I always want to start, but looking at it, this week having a light week made me really keen and eager to get out there so it's a matter of finding that balance.
"I always want to help the team out and contribute in some way, but if I do have little niggles and am just not as sharp as normal then maybe a rest would be good, but don't let the coaches hear that."
Even though Cruden's kicking was perfect against the Force he said that in the run up to the match he had not been kicking well as he had been looking after some leg problems.
"They were flying all over the show so I was a little bit nervous but it was good to get out there and I got an easy one first up that calmed the nerves, so it was nice to knock a few over after that."
Cruden said that the first half of the match against the Force was frustrating as each time they got close to the Force's tryline they happily conceded a penalty to give away three points rather than five or seven.
"I think that was a bit of a ploy of theirs to try and slow our pill down if we got a little bit of momentum and they did that well.
"While it meant I could keep kicking penalties, ultimately we were searching for a seven-pointer and it's something we're going to have to look at because obviously teams do do that in their red zone and we've got to try and come up with a bit of a plan to not let them kill our ball and to attack weak seams."
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie admitted after the match that this was another match that they should have finished off.
"It gave us a few nervous moments late, but it was difficult conditions and we had to grind it out and the pleasing thing is that we showed a bit of character in being willing to scrap it out," Rennie said.