All Blacks Mo’unga, Frizell sign post-World Cup Japan club deals
Published: Dec 26, 2022 09:57 PM
New Zealand rugby playmaker Richie Mo'unga announced on Monday he will take up a three-year Japan club deal after 2023's Rugby World Cup, potentially ending his career in Tests and Super Rugby.

Mo'unga will be joined by fellow All Black Shannon Frizell at the Toshiba Brave Lupus in early 2024.

Both 28-year-olds will leave sizable holes to fill after making regular Test appearances in 2022, although Mo'unga will be most keenly missed by New Zealand supporters.

His skilled general play and accurate goalkicking have seen him overtake Beauden Barrett as the All Blacks's first-choice fly-half, tallying 370 points in 44 Tests since his debut in 2018.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson described Mo'unga as "one of the most influential Super Rugby players ever" and a central part of the team's streak of six successive titles since 2017.

Mo'unga said it will be difficult to leave the club after his ninth and final season in 2023.

"The Crusaders have been my life for ever, even before I joined the team it was my life, dreaming of being part of the family," he said in a statement.

"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."

In 94 games for the Crusaders, Mo'unga has scored 1,010 points to sit seventh on Super Rugby's all-time scorer list.

Robertson said his playmaker's influence extended beyond raw points.

"Through his performances in the biggest games, the biggest moments - he stood up," Robertson said.

"When Richie is on, the team is on. He brings out the best from all the players. For me, he is one of the most influential Super Rugby players ever - how he plays the game, his ability to score points consistently year after year in those crucial moments."

Abrasive Tongan-born ­flanker Frizell has played 25 Tests since his 2018 debut, the same year he made his Super Rugby start with the ­Highlanders.