Rugby: All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga signs three-year deal with Japanese side

  • 26/12/2022
Richie Mo'unga.
Richie Mo'unga. Photo credit: Getty Images

Star All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga has signed a three-year deal with Japanese team Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.

Mo'unga will be joined by All Blacks teammate Shannon Frizell, playing under Kiwi coach Todd Blackadder.

Under NZ Rugby laws, neither will eligible to play for the All Blacks while in Japan. Both are expected to feature at next year's Rugby World Cup in France before heading north.

Since his test debut in 2017, Mo'unga has earned 44 caps for the All Blacks, scoring 370 points.

The upcoming Super Rugby Pacific campaign will be Mo'unga's ninth and final with the powerhouse franchise, during which he'll make his 100th appearance in the red and black.

"The Crusaders have been my life forever, even before I joined the team it was my life, dreaming of being part of the family," Mo'unga said.

Shannon Frizell in action for the All Blacks.
Shannon Frizell in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Looking back at my time with the team since 2015, it makes me so grateful to be part of such a franchise, part of some really awesome memories, some great achievements and great moments, and to just meet some really special people.

"My energy going into this season is no different to any other. I'm here to give my everything. I still want to perform, to do the best for the Crusaders, our members and our fans. 

"There's still a heck of a job to do before I leave."

The 28-year-old has been a key component in the Crusaders' staggering run of success since his 2016 debut, scoring over 1000 points in helping the Christchurch-based franchise to four Super Rugby titles.

"This team has given so much to me as a rugby player and as a person, and in return I’ve always wanted to give my everything to the team both on and off the field, to help us succeed, and to be the best environment for players," he adds.

The duration of their deals would allow both Mo'unga and Frizell to be in black in time for the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia, should they decide to return to Super Rugby.

Frizell, 28, has played 57 matches for the Highlanders and 25 tests for the All Blacks, making his test debut in 2018.

The Toshiba squad features a handful of former All Blacks, including Matt Todd, Tom Taylor and Seta Tamanivalu. Last season, they were beaten semi-finalists in Japan's League One competition.