Rugby World Cup 2019: Richie Mo'unga re-signs with NZ Rugby until 2022

All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga has re-signed with NZ Rugby, the Crusaders and Canterbury through to 2022.

Mo'unga's confirmation comes at a crucial time for the national side, as senior players secure their professional futures - either at home or overseas - beyond this year's Rugby World Cup.

Since the last tournament, the All Blacks have lost the services of first-fives Lima Sopoaga and Aaron Cruden, with two-time IRB World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett also unsigned beyond this year and considering his next career move.

Mo'unga has become Barrett's understudy for the number 10 jersey and looms as the logical successor, if his teammate heads abroad.

With All Blacks utility Damian McKenzie now injured out of the World Cup, Mo'unga may also prove crucial to New Zealand's hopes of a trophy three-peat, while also helping the Crusaders towards three straight Super Rugby titles.

"I'm really fortunate to have had some amazing opportunities with Canterbury, the Crusaders and the All Blacks," says Mo'unga, 24. 

"I feel there is still plenty I want to achieve in New Zealand rugby, which was a huge motivation for me to re-commit.  

"I'm really grateful to be part of a club that means a lot to me and that has given me the opportunity to better myself as a rugby player and as a person.

"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 debuted for the national side against a France XV in 2017 and played his first test against France the following year. He has now made nine test appearances.

"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," says All Blacks coach Steve 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." 

Mo'unga's re-signing follows several others in recent weeks, including halfback Aaron Smith, midfielder Ngani Laumape, lock Patrick Tuipulotu, hookers Nathan Harris and Liam Coltman, and flanker Dalton Papalii.