Richie Mo’unga warns players will leave at a younger age : PlanetRugby

All Blacks fly-half Richie Mo’unga has issued a warning to New Zealand Rugby regarding eligibility for the Test team after completing his move to Japan.

Mo’unga will not be eligible for the All Blacks after the Rugby World Cup as he signed a three-year deal with Japan Rugby League One side Toshiba Brave Lupus.

The All Blacks only select players based in New Zealand, with their eligibility ruling prohibiting the selection of players abroad, and Mo’unga believes these regulations need altering.

New Zealand has to adapt

Over the years, the All Blacks have been able to hold onto players for most of their careers, with the lure of the Black jersey keeping them on New Zealand soil until the twilight of their careers.

But Mo’unga predicts this will change, and more players will leave at a young age, and New Zealand rugby should adapt accordingly.

“New Zealand are going to have to adapt a lot quicker. Otherwise, you’re going to see players leave a lot earlier and not be able to represent their country,” he told reporters in Tokyo.

“We’ve seen a number of New Zealanders coming over to Japan, more and more every year.

“If New Zealand don’t adapt to that sooner or later, I think you’ll see a drop in the standard of New Zealand rugby.”

Earning some ‘coin’

28-year-old flanker Shannon Frizell has also signed a deal to join Mo’unga at Brave Lupus, while Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie and TJ Perenara all enjoyed short stints in Japan in recent years.

Mo’unga believes that more players will follow him in signing longer-term deals to increase their earnings at a younger age due to the shelf life of a professional rugby career.

“There’s a mix of players wanting to represent their country and have a good crack at the international level, but they’re also left with a decision around life after footy, understanding that there’s not a big period of time that you actually do play rugby he said.

“You come over here to make some good coin. It’s important for them and their families too.”

Opportunity to return to the All Blacks

The 28-year-old fly-half has kept the door open on international rugby after the World Cup, explaining that he has signed a three-year deal in order to make an impact at Toshiba and possibly return to New Zealand in his thirties.

“Three years allows me both the best chance to succeed with Toshiba, but at the end, decide where things are at, and it leaves an opportunity to possibly come back for the All Blacks again,” he said.

He is likely to go to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, his second tournament, and returning to New Zealand in 2027 could see him make a late run for a third World Cup.

But Mo’unga isn’t looking too far ahead, saying he is focused on the upcoming World Cup.

“I can never look too far or too wide about what’s happening – my job is to focus on wanting to play each week for the All Blacks if I make the team,” he said.

“That will always be my focus. My job is to focus on me and my performance and to control what I can control.”

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