6 Feb 2014

Cruden and Messam to co-captain Chiefs

6:38 am on 6 February 2014

The All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden has been named co-captain of the defending Super Rugby champions the Chiefs, along with fellow international Liam Messam.

Cruden replaces lock Craig Clarke, who left to play in Ireland, while Messam retains his co-captaincy.

The Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says Cruden's been a major influence on the side winning consecutive titles and believes the 25-year-old will thrive with the added responsibility.

Cruden won the Chiefs' Player of the Year award in both years of their back-to-back championship seasons in 2012-13, while Messam has also been a driving force behind the Chiefs' success, and was voted most valuable player in last year's title decider against the Canberra-based ACT Brumbies.

Favourites to win a third consecutive championship, the Chiefs will play the Crusaders in the opening round of this year's competition on February 21st in Christchurch.