All Blacks

Richie Mo’unga makes a tackle. Image: @BokRugby via Twitter.

All Blacks eager to lure playmaker back to New Zealand

The All Blacks are desperate to get their playmaker back in the fold after he signed a three-year deal to play in Japan.

All Blacks

Richie Mo’unga makes a tackle. Image: @BokRugby via Twitter.

The All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby are desperate to lure Richie Mo’unga back to Super Rugby and the national team fold.

Mo’unga is currently playing in Japan, rendering him inelligible for All Blacks selection.

NZR general manager of professional rugby, Chris Lendrum says that work is underway to get Mo’unga back to New Zealand.

Mo’unga is locked into a three-year deal with Toshiba Brave Lupus, who he joined after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“It’s no secret New Zealand Rugby were sorry to see Richie leave at the time he did and we would like him back,” Lendrum told Rugby Direct.

“You can imagine we’ve been talking to Richie and others while they’re offshore.”

“Plan A is to get him back on a full-time contract as soon as we can. That involves working with his agent.”

Cutting through red tape

Lendrum has spoken with Mo’unga and believes that he has the desire to return for the All Blacks.

“That’s a contractual matter and we work through that with his agent and him,” Lendrum said.

“I know Richie would love to pull on the black jersey again. We have to see when that can be. Then you work back from there.

“The fundamental is a player is committed, wants to play for the All Blacks, wants to be back in New Zealand. Otherwise we’re talking about picking All Blacks from offshore – which is not in the plans.

“We would love Richie home as soon as we can. There are contracts. We respect those. He’s employed by Toshiba currently but we’ll be involved in conversations to see what’s possible.”

Exemptions a long way off

NZR might consider the granting of exemptions but Lendrum says they are a long way from seeing that come into being.

“I imagine every day that goes by it’s coming closer, but it’s still a long, long way in the distance,” Lendrum said of All Blacks selection from offshore according to Rugby Pass.

“The granting of sabbaticals or exemptions from our eligibility criteria are ultimately decided by the New Zealand Rugby Board. Razor has come in and said, ‘I’d like everybody to keep an open mind’. He hasn’t said too much more than that.

“Quite rightly as the All Blacks head coach he’s engaged in discussions with us as management about how we think it looks, what the risks are around players generally. As an All Blacks coach, like we do, he has conversations with players when they’re offshore.”