Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara labels first-five Richie Mo'unga a freak

New Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara has compared Canterbury first-five Richie Mo'unga's ability to that of All Black Beauden Barrett.

The 128-Test capped Ireland international has joined the Super Rugby team's coaching ranks ahead of the 2018 season.

O'Gara was previously the defence coach for French club, Racing 92, where he worked with former Crusaders and All Blacks pivot, Dan Carter.

He is now looking forward to forming a relationship with Canterbury's newest star first-five, and believes Mo'unga skill-set is similar to that of Barrett.

"His capacity to beat defenders, which wouldn't maybe necessarily 10 years ago, be an attribute of a first-five," O'Gara said.

"That happens with Beauden Barrett now and I think other 10's are watching him how he beats defenders, but Richie does it equally as well and he's just a realty exciting player.

"He's a freak with the ball in hand.

"I think the most important thing for me is getting to know the person and then the player; once I know what gets the best out of him, I will be able to hopefully work on that."

Mo'unga was a part of the All Blacks squad for the Northern tour following his performance for the Barbarians against New Zealand, but is yet to be capped at Test level.

O'Gara is firmly focused on developing Mo'unga's talents and ensuring he meets the expectations set by the New Zealand fans following Lima Sopoaga's impending defection to Europe.

"I think he has incredible potential; sometimes the potential doesn't transfer into reality but I think with his attitude, it could easily," he said.

"You forget how young he is but the next challenge for him is can he consistently produce at Test level and after that it becomes a different set of circumstances.

"So there are building blocks for everyone no matter what level you are and I think that's the great thing about understanding the players is if you're Kieran Reid or Same Whitelock, they still, because they're competitors, always look to get better and it's important that coaches drive that."

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