Rugby: All Blacks, Crusaders star Richie Mo'unga poised to take two-year hiatus in Japan

  • 31/05/2022

All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga plans to take a two-year hiatus from New Zealand rugby after the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Last week, the dynamic pivot signed a one-year extension to stay with the Crusaders and the All Blacks through until the end of next year's tournament in France.

The deal allowed Mo'unga some flexibility regarding his next move, which seems likely to involve plying his trade in the Japanese Top League.

"That's definitely what I'm thinking," Mo'unga told NZME. "Another reason for the one-year sign on with NZ Rugby was allowing myself to have a look at opportunities overseas and seeing what somewhere like Japan has to offer and keeping my options open, whether that's one or two seasons over there, and possibly coming back to New Zealand and hopefully play for the Crusaders and All Blacks.

"I want to experience another culture with my family. Taking my wife and kids to Japan would be awesome to experience something different and another style of rugby. 

"I've been at the Crusaders and Canterbury since I started my professional career so I'm looking to experience something different."

Japan has become a popular destination for All Blacks seeking a getaway, with Beauden Barrett spending six months with Suntory Sungoliath last year. Barrett was replaced by All Blacks teammate Damian McKenzie, leading the side back to the League One final.

But Brodie Retallick is a rare example of those who have chosen to go the two-year route, which commands a more lucrative deal.

"I want to show the possible clubs I'm going to that I'm not just there for one year and then leave," Mo'unga told NZME. 

"I want to build something - take a team and work on a few things. I'm willing to invest more than the one year and hopefully build on that season."

Last season, Barrett reclaimed the All Blacks' No. 10 jersey, consigning Mo'unga back to the bench.

The 28-year-old will play a critical role for the Crusaders in the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific playoffs, which begins with a quarter-final showdown against Queensland Reds on Friday.

Join us at 7pm, Friday for live updates of Crusaders v Reds