WELLINGTON – Rising flyhalf Richie Mo'unga signed a new three-year deal to stay with New Zealand rugby on Friday, easing one of the key concerns for the All Blacks ahead of the World Cup.
The 24-year-old, who has guided the Canterbury 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.
He joins several other All Blacks who have recommitted to New Zealand in recent weeks including Aaron Smith and Ngani Laumape while Barrett is believed to be still weighing up his options.
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.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)