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Mo'unga reveals the reason for his 'life-changing' move overseas

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga has opened up about his stunning decision to leave New Zealand rugby behind after next year’s World Cup.


Mo’unga will go down in Super Rugby history as one of the greatest first-fives in Crusaders history – even rivalling the legacy of legendary No. 10 Dan Carter.

The 28-year-old has led the champion club to six Super Rugby titles throughout his decorated career in red and black, and is coming off a career-best season in the famous All Blacks jersey.

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But the star pivot is set to embark on a new journey following next year’s World Cup in France, after signing a deal with Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.

Mo’unga has reportedly inked a three-year deal with the Japanese club, and will be ineligible to play Test rugby during that span.

As he prepares to farewell New Zealand rugby in less than a year, Mo’unga has spoken about the importance of putting his family first.

“It’s a touchy thing when people are going overseas but you can’t hide away from the fact it’s life-changing for me and my family,” Mo’unga told the New Zealand Herald.


“My job as a father and a husband is to provide for my family and put them first in decision. That’s basically what I’m doing.”

After making his debut in the coveted red jersey in early 2016, Mo’unga quickly cemented his place in the starting line-up.

Following the footsteps of giants including the likes of Dan Carter and Andrew Mehrtens, Mo’unga proved himself as a worthy custodian of the famous No. 10 jersey.

The Christchurch-born flyhalf has played 94 times for the champion club, and is expected to reach a century of appearances this season.


“The Crusaders have been my life forever, even before I joined the team it was life, dreaming of being part of the family,” he said.

“Looking back at my time with the team since 2015, it makes me so grateful to be part of such a franchise, part of some really awesome memories, some great achievements and great moments, and to just meet some really special people.

“My energy going into this season is no different to any other, I’m here to give my everything.

“I still want to perform, to do the best for the Crusaders, our members and our fans. There’s still a heck of a job to do before I leave.”

The Crusaders have achieved unrivalled success since Super Rugby was introduced, but the legacy of the rugby-mad region goes back even further.

Canterbury have excelled at the provincial level for quite some time; hundreds of players have gone on to higher honours with the All Blacks.

But despite the history of success in the region, the Crusaders wouldn’t have been the same team without Mo’unga.


Super coach Scott Robertson described the 44-cap All Black as “one of the most influential Super Rugby players ever.”

“If there’s one player that continues to leave their mark on this team, that’d be Richie Mo’unga,” Robertson said.

“Through his performances in the biggest games, the biggest moments – he stood up, which Crusaders do. He’s a special man, a local boy, pride of the community, and there’s no doubt about it – Richie can play.

“When Richie is on, the team is on. He brings out the best from all the players. For me, he is one of the most influential Super Rugby players ever – how he plays the game, his ability to score points consistently year after year in those crucial moments.

“The biggest thing for me with Richie is how much he cares about the team and the club, about the players he plays with and the people he plays for.

“He means a lot to the Crusaders and we wish him all the best. There’ll be a time to properly say goodbye to him at the end of the season, but for now we’re all focused on the job in front of us.”


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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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