Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has raved over the performance of Richie Mo'unga, whose heroics delivered the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions a 43-27 victory over the Blues at Eden Park.
Mo'unga, 26, was instrumental in the top-of-the-table clash, scoring a personal tally of 28 points - enough to beat the Blues single-handedly.
"You get as much off the field as you do on it," Robertson says of Mo'unga. "You get to see how he runs this team.
“He's extremely passionate about his performance and getting everyone to perform at a high level.
"He cares deeply about his own preparation and the team's. He's important to us and we love him."
Mo'unga's display was his most prolific in a Crusaders jersey. The mercurial first-five didn't miss a kick all afternoon, landing four conversions and five penalties, as well as scoring a try, after jinking through the Blues defence.
The reiging Super Rugby player of the year adds that playing in a top-of-the-table clash against their Auckland rivals was all the motivation he needed to put in arguably his best performance at Super Rugby Aotearoa level.
"I like these moments, right in the pressure cooker," Mo'unga says. "That's where I want to be.
“It's where I perform the best under pressure. It brings out the best in me and it brings out the best in the team.
"I'm very pleased, very proud - this one was one everyone had wanted. This is the one everyone has been waiting for.
"Our preparation was unreal and, I've got to be honest, this is the one I really wanted to play in and win."
Victory gives the Crusaders a staggering nine points of breathing room over the Blues at the top of Super Rugby Aotearoa. The defending champions boast an unbeaten record after the opening four matches, accounting for each of their four New Zealand rivals.
Robertson's side will no doubt be thrilled, as they enter their bye week, out of action until April 2, when they host the Highlanders at Christchurch's Orangetheory Stadium.
Join us for live updates of the Highlanders v Hurricanes Super Rugby Aotearoa clash from 7pm Friday