All Blacks secure flyhalf future
NEWS: New Zealand secured their future in the flyhalf channel with a crucial signing.
Rising flyhalf Richie Mo’unga signed a new three-year deal to stay in New Zealand, easing one of the key concerns for the All Blacks ahead of the World Cup.
The 24-year-old, who has guided the Crusaders to win the last two Super Rugby titles, is expected to join Beauden Barrett as the All Black pivots at the World Cup later this year.
The news is further good news for New Zealand Rugby, which has extended contracts with several All Blacks in recent weeks – including Aaron Smith, Ngani Laumape, Nathan Harris, Liam Coltman, Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii, with a strong core of experienced players committed to New Zealand Rugby post-2019.
The nine-Test Mo’unga said he had unfinished business in New Zealand.
“I’m really fortunate to have had some amazing opportunities with Canterbury, the Crusaders, and the All Blacks, and I feel there is still plenty I want to achieve in New Zealand rugby, which was a huge motivation for me to re-commit,” he said.
“I want to keep striving to be the best I can be, which ultimately is why I’ve made the decision to stay in this environment.”
The decision to stay was welcomed by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who has already seen utility Damian McKenzie injured out of World Cup contention which has exposed the shortage of quality flyhalves in New Zealand.
“It’s great that he’s staying, as he is only going to get better and better,” Hansen said.
“He made a great start last year in his first All Blacks season and we look forward to him going to an even higher level this year. It’ll be exciting to watch just how far he can go.”
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) April 26, 2019
The 24-year-old Mo’unga made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 2013 and his Super Rugby debut with the Crusaders three years later.
He first played for the All Blacks against a France XV on the year-end tour in 2017 and made his full Test debut against France last year in Dunedin. He has played nine Tests to date.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson added: “Richie is world class – at just 24 years old he’s quickly established himself as an integral member of our squad and a leading first five-eighth in Super Rugby.
“We’re proud of his ability to step up and make big plays under pressure. He’s proved that over the past three seasons with the Crusaders and was rewarded for his consistency with selection in the All Blacks. Richie has a big future in the game and it’s exciting that his playing future is with the Crusaders.”