Last Updated: 26/04/19 6:34am
All Blacks fly-half Richie Mo’unga has extended his national contract until 2022 in a coup for New Zealand rugby.
The 24-year-old is the latest player to commit to stay with New Zealand after the World Cup in Japan.
Several leading All Blacks, including captain Kieran Read, will retire from Test rugby after the tournament but the re-signing of players such as Mo’unga ensures a nucleus of the current squad will remain intact.
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The deal also keeps Mo’unga with Super Rugby’s back-to-back champions the Crusaders.
“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,” said Mo’unga.
“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.”
Mo’unga was instrumental in the Crusaders’ successful title defence last year, piling pressure on Beauden Barrett’s hold over the All Blacks’ No 10 jersey.
After making his Test debut off the bench against France in Dunedin last year, Mo’unga started at fly-half in wins against Argentina and Japan.
Fast, skilled and highly versatile, Mo’unga has also played at full-back and on the wing in his nine Tests to date and is expected to be picked in Steve Hansen’s squad for the World Cup in Japan.
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“He is developing into a very good rugby player and it’s great that he’s staying, as he is only going to get better and better,” said Hansen.
“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.”