Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks expect Richie Mo'unga will be fit for opener against Springboks

The All Blacks are confident Richie Mo'unga will be fit for their opening match of the Rugby World Cup against South Africa in Yokohama on September 21.

First-five Mo'unga arrived in Japan under an injury cloud, after injuring his right shoulder in the All Blacks' 36-0 win over the Wallabies in the second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park last month.

He was rested for the All Blacks' 92-7 victory over Tonga in Hamilton - the team's final hitout before the World Cup. 

Despite declaring Mo'unga "ready to go", All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster didn't specify what role he'd play in the test.

Before his injury, Mo'unga had started three consecutive tests in the 10 jersey, with Beauden Barrett playing at fullback. 

"Last week, we pulled him out more precautionary, so this week's about him graduating back into full training," said Foster. 

"He's tracking really, really well, and we expect him to be fully fit and available."

Last time the All Blacks faced the Springboks, the match finished in a 16-16 draw in Wellington, while the last four matches between the two nations have been decided by two points or less. 

Foster shrugged off suggestions that the All Blacks are vulnerable, heading into the tournament. 

"Winning has always been important to us, but it doesn't mean much now," Foster added. "Several candidates are putting their hands up to be favourites for this tournament.

"We've seen numerous teams who've had big victories that we've looked at and gone, 'Wow, that's a team that could threaten'.

"It's going to be an exciting World Cup - but the rest is just a smokescreen." 


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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.