Does Mo’unga deserve All Blacks selection?

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    Crusaders first five Richie Mo’unga looks to take his team to back-to-back Super Ruby championships at AMI Stadium on Saturday, 4 August.

    Mo’unga has had lots of success with the Crusaders, winning 24 out of the last 25 games he has played for the Christchurch side, but after a successful season knocking off the powerhouse Hurricanes 30-12 in the semi-final led by All Blacks experienced flyhalf Beauden Barrett, questions arise whether Mo’unga is the guy for the job in 2018.

    Although Chiefs player Damian McKenzie had been the pick to back up Barrett in the June test series, Mo’unga’s impressive form cannot be overlooked.

    With Mo’unga’s current form there is a new battle for the number ten jersey between hime Barrett and McKenzie. Regardless of the fact Barrett has been world class and in the lead for the past few years, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen surely has to look at Mo’unga.

    After outplaying Barrett and the Hurricanes in their bout at Christchurch, Mo’unga has proved he can hold his weight against other world-class players and the world-class flyhalf of Barrett.

    Richie Mo'unga of the Crusaders kicks the ball

    (Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

    Although Mo’unga played behind a world-class forward pack, his dominant performance allowed the Crusaders to be on the front foot. Statistically he’s scored 11 more points than Barrett having played five games fewer.

    It’s no secret that the young flyhalf’s kicking game is world class both off the tee and out of hand. A possible option is for Hansen to use the versatility of Beauden Barrett by dropping him to fullback, thereby opening a spot for Mo’unga.

    Mo’unga has shown that his running game can be as impressive as Beauden Barrett’s, with 46 defenders beaten in the season. This has been showcased with 16 clean breaks and four classy tries.

    The coming final this weekend will be very important for Mo’unga’s selection. However, regardless of who is chosen, the All Blacks have an abundance of talent to choose from.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • August 4th 2018 @ 9:14am
      Bluffboy said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      He certainly has earned selection.
      I’m not sure about all comments re playing behind a world class pack come from because that’s exactly what he will be getting with the all blacks. I would like to see him with Crotty and Goodhue in combination sometime this season.
      Canon the Saders

      • August 4th 2018 @ 11:05am
        Jacko said | August 4th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        Bluffboy the comments about the pack are in reference to the fact that the guys he is being compared to arnt playing behind that dominant pack…..Therefore Mounga has that advantage to look good as he has more space and time…..Its about how well BB and Dmac will go behind the same pack given that chance
        And where have you been all season as I have seen Mounga, Crotty and Goodhue as a combination many times this season….and would not have it at ABs level……yet!!!!!!!!…..Who knows in the future

        • August 4th 2018 @ 1:17pm
          Fionn said | August 4th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          The argument of a 10 playing or not playing behind a good pack is such a tired argument. It is a way of excusing poor play from a 10, or as an excuse not to praise a 10 for good play.

          The fact is that he has demonstrated excellent skills (passing, kicking, etc) as well as really clear, level-headed decision making in attack and defence. I read that in the matches Mounga played the Crusaders averaged 40 points, and when he didn’t it was only 22 points.

          The Chiefs had a pack that was almost as good and yet McKenzie displayed nothing like Mounga’s ability. Nor, I think, has Barrett for the All Blacks. He has been brilliant, of course, but in a different way to that of the traditional 10. It all comes down to what sort of style Hansen wants to play. He backed Barrett over Cruden, but I suspect he might have hoped for Barrett to evolve his passing skills and game management to a level higher than he has done.

          • August 5th 2018 @ 9:40am
            Jacko said | August 5th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            Seriously Fionn????/ You believe hansen thought BB would develop to be better than the current POTY he is? I didnt know there was a better than best player in the world award he could have got.

            • August 5th 2018 @ 1:56pm
              Fionn said | August 5th 2018 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

              I specifically said improve his passing and game management. For all his prodigious skill these are two areas that aren’t strengths of his, and that haven’t improved much over the last two years.

              Either you purposefully ignored what I said or you didn’t bother reading it.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 11:05am
                jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                So according to you the best player in the world has a less than effective passing game and is not great at game Management? Specifically of course…and if they havnt improved in the last 2 years could it be because he has been POTY for those same 2 years you say he lacks in?

              • Roar Rookie

                August 6th 2018 @ 11:16am
                piru said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                Sorry to butt in – but this argument about 10s playing behind better packs has always annoyed me. People used to use it all the time to make arguments against Dan Carter.

                A good 10 makes his pack better, it’s not all a one way street.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 12:40pm
                Fionn said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                Jacko, are you seriously saying Barrett has proved himself a good game manager? If so, LOL! I don’t even think he would say that game management (or passing) are two of his strengths. No one is denying whether he is WPOTY. I can’t work out if you’re being argumentative or you honestly cannot understand the fact that he cannot do most of the same things from fullback.

                And yeah, Piru, that’s absolutely the case. It’s as if the 10 doesn’t matter. The Crusaders averaged 40 points in the games Mounga played, and 22 without him. Evidently, the 10 makes a huge difference.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 5:34pm
                Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

                Fionn you are rubbishing the POTY just because you want to see someone else in his position…….he is good enough to win…2 years straight…the best player in the world award….now to me these awards are a bit argueable because of positions and teams that playerts play in etc but you cannot possibly say BB has all these weaknesses as those with weaknesses do not get those awards….I think you are so desperate to see him moved on for some unknown reason and I dont get you analysis of the guys so called lack of passing ability and lack of game management skill….they cant be as bad as you are claiming otherwise he would not be the current ABs 10 or the current POTY……

    • Roar Rookie

      August 4th 2018 @ 9:37am
      ChrisG said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      His time has come (almost) though I don’t expect to see him till the end of year tour, barring injury of course. Personally I prefer his style of play compared to the high risk style we see from Damian McKenzie.

    • August 4th 2018 @ 10:55am
      Jacko said | August 4th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

      If He outplayed BB head to head then I guess so did every other Sader….therefore no Canes to be ABs this year…Canes finished 2nd on points so they must have outplayed the Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues so none of them should be ABs…So the ABs team this year is the Crusaders….Head to head they have beaten everyone….So the RC is between the Saders, Tahs…they outplayed their Aus conference….and the Lions…they outplayed their SA conference….and the Jaguares as they would certainly outplay any other Arg side……..
      but hey…lets drop the current best player in the world to FB just so a 10minute test bloke can be given a shot….that moves the FB…possibly to wing…then that drops a winger to the bench…then a bench player is out of the squad……
      My suggestion is to let mounga evolve in the usual manner and timeframe and assess him all along the way so we know when he is actually better than BB rather than when his team beats BBs team

      • August 4th 2018 @ 1:14pm
        Fionn said | August 4th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Was Mounga ever outplayed head to head this season? Serious question, but I can’t really think of once.

        You keep being intentionally misleading, Jacko. Barrett wouldn’t be ‘dropped’, he would be shifted to fullback, his other position.

        • Roar Guru

          August 5th 2018 @ 2:52am
          taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 2:52am | ! Report

          Except youre not Hansen, and hansen hasnt done that yet. Since moving Barrett to 10 hes stuck with him. So although its a logical suggestion, doesnt mean it will happen. Is Mouaga currently a better 10 than Cruden was last year. Probably not in terms of test quality, yet that didnt get him ahead of Barrett either.

          • August 5th 2018 @ 3:23pm
            Fionn said | August 5th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

            I suspect that Hansen might have been hoping for greater growth from Barrett in terms of game management and his passing skills. Back in 2016 I thought he was the right call over Cruden, but those things haven’t really improved all that much.

            Maybe he is still the best option at 10, who knows, but I would imagine Hansen would be interested in seeing 10. Mounga, 14. Smith, 15. Barrett after how well the All Blacks played against the Lions in the first test when Barrett switched to fullback and Cruden played at 10 for most of the game.

            • Roar Guru

              August 5th 2018 @ 4:21pm
              taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

              Again, why? He did see them playing like that in the first test and didnt keep that combination and personally, I dont know where youre getting his lack of a passing game from…Nick?
              Nick also says hes a dumb footballer, Smith being the ‘brains’ of the two. If the two time world POTY is dumb it doesnt say much for the rest of them.

              For me he simply has a style that sometimes doesnt come off when hes tied down. Happens to players like Sexton, Foley, and other top tens as well.

              Have never heard Hansen or for that matter many mention that at all. Your projecting what you think Hansen is thinking when he aint thinking like that at all. His selections continue to confirm that.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 4:30pm
                Fionn said | August 5th 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

                I’ve never been particularly sold on his passing game, TMan. Paul Cully pointed it out about a year and a half ago and I’ve watched it pretty closely since. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t as good as Mounga’s.

                I suspect that had Hansen known he would lose the next test and draw the next one that he might have keep the 10. Cruden, 15. Barrett combination that worked so well in the first test.

                I don’t think he is a dumb player at all, I just think that a lot of his brilliance seems to be instinctive in broken play, not demonstrative of a visionary tactician.

                No 10 plays well all the time, but I heard someone once say that Perenara and Barrett are the closest thing New Zealand has to a much better version of Phipps and Foley, and I must say I see what they mean. When Barrett is rattled he hasn’t shown much of an ability to adjust and to combat rush defences, for example.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 3:11pm
                Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                ” Happens to players like Sexton, Foley, and other top tens as well ”

                You`re kidding yourself. Foley aint a top 10.

        • August 5th 2018 @ 9:04am
          Jacko said | August 5th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          Fionn I didnt write the article…I didnt write that the forward pack of the saders was the reason mounga is going great…..The writer is saying that because the Saders beat the canes then Mounga is better than BB…….I am saying that is BS and results from a team sport do not mean a player in the losing side is automatically worse than 1 from the winning side…These articles calling for a 10min test player are getting silly and to be honest how could any player be compared to the Crusaders players last night apart from the Lions as no one else was playing to be compared….I have stated so many times I get sick of saying it that Mounga could be the best 10 the world has ever seen…..he could mean 20 other NZ 10s leave and go to europe because they will never get a shot at Abs level but I am also saying how do we know…10 mins told us nothing…10 mins of test rugby where no points were scored……Give Mounga time to be the best rather than this BS constant demand for him to be their now….Lets face it Marx was rated by many on here as the best player in the world last week…this week he was very quiet and his impact minimal…..Goodhue was rated by Nick Bishop as the ABs centre in an all saders 10. 12 .13 yet very average game last night and chased down when only 25m from the line…Which is the WHOLE REASON I dont get caught up in all the hype and BS that has been going around….Hansen will select Mounga when Hansen thinks he is better than any other available options or he wants to give him experience and you and I will have nothing to do with it. If you are the sort of fan that is always looking for the bext big thing then i have no issue with that and I dont care but I am the sort of fan that wants new guys to prove again and again they are better and then to prove they can handle the next level…because the guys currently there are doing pretty good with a 90% win record and getting things like POTY 2017 and we have seen it all before with these guys …Sopounga was a revelation…even his test debut v SA was genius…But he never became the next big thing so has now left to go offshore….Im pretty sure Im allowed to be wrong but I think hansen will use BB at 10 and Dmac off the bench for the RC and bring Mounga on thru the EOYT…barring injury or form etc….Time will tell….if Im wrong it wont be the last time and Im happy to let Hansen decide

        • August 5th 2018 @ 9:35am
          Jerry said | August 5th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          His other position? He’s never started a test there, has only subbed on as a FB 6 times in 64 tests (and not once since 2015) and he never plays there for the Canes.

          • August 5th 2018 @ 3:15pm
            Fionn said | August 5th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

            He plays there every time for the Canes that West comes on.

            He moved to fullback against the Lions last year when Smith was injured and lo and behold it was the best rugby the All Blacks played against the Lions.

          • August 6th 2018 @ 9:34am
            Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

            Yeah…10 mins a match…..He is a 10 with versatility….that is his position….Has he ever started at FB???? ..what about at SR level..?????

            • August 6th 2018 @ 12:41pm
              Fionn said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              Yes, he’s started at fullback, Jacko.

              Does it make a difference if he starts there for the Canes or not? Of course you’d play him at 10 for the Hurricanes as having 10. Barrett, 15. J. Barrett/Milner-Skudder is much better than 10. West, 15. B. Barrett. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out.

              I think you’re a tad upset that people rate Mounga higher than McKenzie.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 5:46pm
                Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

                Quite the opposite….i think you have players you want desperately in the NZ team….I have no idea why it gets up your nose so much that Dmac is still considered by Hansen to be the 2nd best 10…That may well change and if Mounga is better than Dmac then great…how good is that for the ABs and it wont affect my Chiefs ….You want BB out…Dmac out…ALB out…and you want them all replaced with Crusaders…..Also I think you get your Barrets all mixed up…How many times has BB started as FB for either the ABs or the canes? I dont think he has for the ABs and I dont remember it for the Canes…dont care if Im remembering wrong as if he has then it will be very few times.

    • August 4th 2018 @ 1:23pm
      Fionn said | August 4th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

      Yeah, mate. I think you’ve nailed it.

      If Hansen wants to do this though, he would have to try and bring it in during the RC one would think.

      I think getting the 10-12-13 from the Crusaders would be of vast benefit to the All Blacks given they would play together year round.

      • August 5th 2018 @ 9:14am
        Jacko said | August 5th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        i guess you will want the 10-12-13 from the Tahs for the Aus team then Fionn…..they are the best Aus side and they play together all year round.

        Abs 10-12-13 will be BB, SBW, Crotty barring injury

        • August 5th 2018 @ 3:16pm
          Fionn said | August 5th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          Are you actually being serious, or just argumentative?

          • August 6th 2018 @ 9:36am
            Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            Just showing you your theories applied to Aus instead of NZ

            • August 6th 2018 @ 12:48pm
              Fionn said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

              Not really, you evidently didn’t understand what I was saying.

              I shouldn’t bother explaining to you as I doubt you’ll take it on board, but I’ll give it a go.

              If three players play together for 8 months a year they obviously learn to play as a team and combination better than if they only play together for 4 months a year. Most of the great centre partnerships play together at club level as well as international.

              That isn’t saying that you pick a worse player over a better one, but if the best players play together at club level it is a benefit to the international side. Or if an international coach has a choice between two equally good players at 12, one of whom plays with the starting 13 at club level then they should go for that one.

              Very few people would suggest that ALB or McKenzie are better at 13 and 10 in 2018 than Goodhue/Crotty and Mounga. So a lot is gained from picking Mounga at 10 given Crotty and Goodhue are probably your best 12 and 13.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 5:59pm
                Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

                So why cant that theory of yours apply equally to the Tahs 10, 12, 13?…They are as good man for man as any others barring the 2 injured centres and have played together all season…..why is my suggestion silly but yours genius when we have the same suggestion? YOU rate Goodhue as good as ALB or Crotty at 13…Hansen clearly doesnt….so Hansen selects his best 10,12,13 and I garantee come the first test against Aus it wont be Mounga, Crotty Goodhue so Hansen trumps you me and everyone else

              • August 6th 2018 @ 6:25pm
                Fionn said | August 6th 2018 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

                I’m done, Jacko, have a nice night.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 3:14pm
          Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

          Jacko you are right for once. It will be a 10 and 12 Tahs .13 will be ???????

    • August 4th 2018 @ 2:21pm
      Old Bugger said | August 4th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

      “Does Mounga deserve All Black’s selection?”

      My answer is yes but, I concede it’s a timing issue for me and the pending RC comp IMO, is not the time. My most singular reason is that this year’s comp, will be the last 2-test per RC nation comp for Hansen and Co to look at bedding down their potential RWC tour group before, next year’s tournament. Next year, will be an abbreviated comp with less tough test matches to measure the team’s progress leading into the RWC.

      But perhaps, another significant reason is Hansen following his own instincts, with having a No10/15 player ready to roll in case of an injury. To that end, I suggest Shag is simply following what has worked for him previously with BB and, is merely treading a safe path of first hand experience by continuing to persevere with DMac, as his No10/15 player. I would further suggest that had RM played a season of SR and AB rugby at No15, then without doubt, he would’ve been a serious contender to get a run this year.

      So barring injury, Mounga will probably be involved with the squad to get used to the culture whilst on tour and such an opportunity will arise, within the EOYT in November. Until then, he can use these next few months to soak up the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the culture and then, the upcoming tour as a squad member.

      • August 4th 2018 @ 4:50pm
        Akari said | August 4th 2018 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

        Hey OB, I’d have thought that now is the right time to give Richie Mo’unga a sniff as BB and DMac (to lesser extent) are known quantities at 10 or 15. Don’t you think that it’s RM that needs to establish his credentials at test level as a 10 at the earliest opportunity? As you suggest, it might a little too late next year with the limited opportunities available then.

        • August 4th 2018 @ 9:12pm
          Old Bugger said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

          I don’t disagree but, my comments are trying to consider what Hansen is considering. IMO, Hansen likes a player with multiple roles that enables him to choose an extra player, in another position.

          For instance, if he has two players capable of playing a 10/15 role, then he can potentially choose a 6th prop or an extra mid-fielder. He can also visit a 6/lock position meaning he can choose just 3specialist locks and provide an opportunity to choose, a specialist No 10.

          He has this RC season to consider his run on team first and foremost and an EOYT, to consider his overall squad of 35 I believe, for RWC. Mou’nga is a specialist No 10 and his selection for next year’s RWC is dependent upon Hansen’s ability to select as many players, with multiple capabilities.

          As I said, RM has every chance of playing No 10 but before he does, I just think Hansen will want to find out how both BB and DM, will give him this RC test season because next year, will be devoted solely to consolidate partnerships and combinations rather than worrying about, anything else.

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2018 @ 2:56am
            taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 2:56am | ! Report

            Dmac does have the advantage of covering 10 and 15 at test level and you probably cant have all three in the 23, but Mouagas goalkicking adds to his bow as well, was impressive last night.

            • August 5th 2018 @ 9:28am
              Jacko said | August 5th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

              yeah i dont see a spot in the 23 for all 3. The ABs backline is looking pretty good at the moment with my backline of Smith…BB…SBW…Crotty…..Ioane….Naholo…Smith………Where Arron Smith and Naholo the only guys who are stuck where selected…every other player there can play in at least 2 positions very well. Then Dmac on bench….versatile…ALB…12-13……J Barrett…..FB…Centre……So whoever they chose covers all injury possibilities…then guys like NMS…also versatile….and Mounga….a 10…can be bought in around the others.

    • August 4th 2018 @ 7:54pm
      Tooly said | August 4th 2018 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

      He rattled Barrett and will give Foley trouble .
      Meanwhile Chekko has rehired Toomua who rushes up in defence to try pull off a big hit , can’t kick accurately , has a wild pass and never was much good .

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2018 @ 3:18am
        taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 3:18am | ! Report

        Yeah I think rushing Toomuas a mistake. Straight into battle with the ABs at 10 or 12? Think theyre expecting too much of him. Agree with his defensive technique, hes one of those that tear up and try to stop the whole move by himself, and very prone to head knocks, a bit like Crotty of late.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 3:31pm
          Reality Check said | August 7th 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

          At least Toomua has a go at tackling. Foley hides on the wing in defence or when he is to slow to run to the wing in time if the All Blacks get an attacking turnover, the All Blacks run at him because he is caught in the 10/12 channel and thus is run over every time. he is a massive liability. He needs to go.

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