Mo’unga fol­low­ing in Carter’s foot­steps

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

CAN­TER­BURY CRU­SADERS fly­half Richie Mo’unga will have a big tar­get on his back in to­day’s clash with the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions af­ter as­sis­tant coach Leon Mac­Don­ald com­pared him to All Blacks great Daniel Carter.

Carter is a three- time World Player of the Year and twice World Cup win­ner and is con­sid­ered one of the great­est fly­halves to have played the game.

The Lions play the Cru­saders at Rugby League Park in Christchurch in the third stop of their tour 10-match tour and Mac­Don­ald said Mo’unga had the tem­per­a­ment to deal with such a big game de­spite be­ing only 23.

“There is a lot of Dan Carter in Richie Mo’unga,” Mac­Don­ald told re­porters in Christchurch yes­ter­day.

“Very rarely do you see him rat­tled at all, at any level. He’s very ca­sual, he en­joys a laugh, he’s a bit of a joker and I think you need that tem­per­a­ment as a 10 be­cause there’s a lot of pres­sure.

“He doesn’t seem to be fazed and for a young guy to con­trol a team like the Cru­saders, with a lot of big per­son­al­i­ties, a lot of big strong men who have played a lot of rugby – to run the ship as con­fi­dently as he does at his age is a real credit to him.”

Mo’unga broke into the Can­ter­bury pro­vin­cial team in 2013, his first year out of sec­ondary school, but did not take the step up to the Cru­saders un­til two years later.

He was named as part of the team’s wider train­ing group that year with Carter and fel­low All Blacks Colin Slade and Tom Tay­lor ahead of him. When that trio de­parted af­ter the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Mo’unga was thrust into the start­ing role for the seven-times cham­pi­ons last year.

He took his time to find his feet at the next level but about halfway through last sea­son Mo’unga ap­peared to have grown ac­cus­tomed the pace of the game and he be­gan to take con­trol of the team.

Un­der new coach Scott Robert­son, Mo’unga has sparked a far more creative Cru­saders back­line, with the side hav­ing scored 74 tries in Su­per Rugby this sea­son, sec­ond only to the Welling­ton Hur­ri­canes.

De­spite talk­ing up Mo’unga’s con­tri­bu­tion, Mac­Don­ald was also keen not to build ex­pec­ta­tions he could pro­duce a per­for­mance like Carter’s in the sec­ond Lions test in 2005 when he scored 33 points in the All Blacks’ 48-18 vic­tory.

“I don’t want to put pres­sure on Richie and say there’s Dan Carter per­for­mance brew­ing to­mor­row, but there are sim­i­lar­i­ties to his game,” Mac­Don­ald said.

“Richie has had a fan­tas­tic year for us. He re­views his per­for­mances re­ally harshly. He’s tough on him­self and wants to be bet­ter but he has a nice bal­ance in his life.

“I think he’s go­ing to get bet­ter and bet­ter and at one stage we’ll see him in a black jer­sey.” – Reuters

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