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All Blacks Retain Key Play-Maker for 3 more years.

3 year deal.

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Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

One of the rising stars of New Zealand Rugby, All Blacks and BNZ Crusaders Out-Half Richie Mo’unga, has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby and his Super Rugby club and his Canterbury province, inking a new deal through to 2022.

The news is further good news for New Zealand Rugby, which has extended contracts with several All Blacks in recent weeks, including Aaron Smith, Ngani Laumape, Nathan Harris, Liam Coltman, Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii, with a strong core of experienced players committed to New Zealand Rugby post-2019.

24-year-old Mo’unga made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 2013 and his Investec Super Rugby debut with the Crusaders three years later. He first played for the All Blacks against a France XV on the Vista Northern Tour in 2017 and made his full Test debut against France last year in Dunedin. He has played nine Tests to date.

Mo’unga said:

“I’m really fortunate to have had some amazing opportunities with Canterbury, the Crusaders, and the All Blacks, and I feel there is still plenty I want to achieve in New Zealand rugby, which was a huge motivation for me to re-commit.”

“I’m really grateful to be part of a club that means a lot to me and that has given me the opportunity to better myself as a rugby player and as a person. I want to keep striving to be the best I can be, which ultimately is why I’ve made the decision to stay in this environment.”

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said:

“Congratulations to Richie on his re-signing. He is developing into a very good rugby player and it’s great that he’s staying, as he is only going to get better and better.”

“He made a great start last year in his first All Blacks season and we look forward to him going to an even higher level this year. It’ll be exciting to watch just how far he can go.”

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson added:

“Richie is world class – at just 24 years old he’s quickly established himself as an integral member of our squad and a leading first five-eighth in Super Rugby.

“We’re proud of his ability to step up and make big plays under pressure. He’s proved that over the past three seasons with the Crusaders and was rewarded for his consistency with selection in the All Blacks. Richie has a big future in the game and it’s exciting that his playing future is with the Crusaders.”

That sentiment has been echoed by BNZ Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge.

“We’re thrilled Richie has re-committed to the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby beyond our 2019 campaign. Not only is Richie a talented athlete and a quality man, he’s a fan favourite and I know our supporters will be pleased to see such an exciting young player remain with this Crusaders team through the 2022 season.”

Canterbury Head Coach Joe Maddock said: “Richie has had a rapid rise over the past few seasons, and we’re fortunate to retain a player of his immense talent. He’s a proud Canterbury man, and such a positive representative of red and black rugby, so we’re looking forward to seeing all that he’ll achieve in seasons to come.”

Here’s what Richie Mo’unga had to say about his deal.

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Koroibete Praises Cheika After Award Win

Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete claimed the top prize at Australian Rugby’s yearly awards, but caused a little stir after praising former head coach Michael Cheika

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(Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

Australian winger Marika Koroibete was awarded the John Eales medallist at the Australian Rugby awards last night and thanked former head coach Michael Cheika for helping him achieve the feat.

The award, which is handed to the country’s player of the year, was given to the electric winger last night after he saw of the likes of Samu Kerevi to be presented with the highest honour in the land. 

However, the former Rugby League star, who switched codes after Cheika suggested the move, paid a heartfelt tribute to the coach. 

“It’s such an honour to be named with all the great players who’ve won this medal before. I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting this. Michael Cheika was the one who spoke to me. He’s the one who moulded me to be here wearing this medal. He didn’t force me to play early. He took his time and encouraged me, gave me things six months by six months, and this year I’ve been working very hard with the (Melbourne) Rebels coaching staff, they’ve supported me as well,” he said. 

Cheika brought the 27-year-old into the Wallabies camp in 2016, but waited almost a year to hand him his debut as he tried to blood him into his new surroundings. 

However, during his tenure as manager and since his departure there have been a number of players who have criticised the coach, although Koroibete continued to heap praise on his former manager as he showed his gratitude. 

 “(Cheika) is such a great man, he mingled well with the boys. I like him as a coach. He’s honest with you. If there’s something you need to work on, he tells you straight. He doesn’t beat around the bush. Unfortunately, he’s not here anymore,” he added. 

It is a big vote of confidence for Cheika, who is currently being linked with a position at French Top 14 giants Montpellier as he looks to get back into the game. 

Elsewhere on the night, Kerevi wasn’t to be denied an award as he won Super Rugby Player of the Year, while youngster Jordan Petaia, who only made his debut for the Wallabies during the Rugby World Cup in Japan received the accolade for Rookie of the Year.

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Gatland Suspected Wales Player of Doping

Warren Gatland has been full of chat after leaving his post as Wales manager, but has made his most interesting statement yet since his departure

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has admitted that he had suspicions that a player he used to coach while he was in charge of the national side was doping.

Speaking to Off the Ball, Gatland, who also discussed his comments regarding England in the lead up to the World Cup final, has claimed he had a notion that one of his former players was using performance enhancing drugs.

“You know I haven’t come across personally any players that I’ve coached from a Wales perspective that I would – well sorry, maybe one. Maybe one, now that I think about it,” he said. 

When asked about where he had coached this player, he didn’t give a definite answer but made it pretty clear that it was a Welsh international, but he made it clear that he had no proof of the claim so he couldn’t be certain about it. 

“He may have done, yeah. It’s probably a little bit unfair of me to say I had suspicions about one of them because I’ve got no evidence or anything like that. Because it’s kind of like just saying, ‘Is there a possibility?’… It was more like a couple of people making jokes sort of thing. And you go, ‘Oh is that…,” he added. 

It was a pretty big statement from the new Chiefs coach, with former Ireland international Neil Francis writing last week that maybe people should put an asterisk beside South Africa’s World Cup win due to there being a strong possibility that players were doping in his opinion.   

His claim was linked to the fact that Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi had been found to be using performance enhancing drugs earlier this year, after breaking onto the scene recently as well as studies done in the country. 

However, Gatland’s suspicion will raise questions as to whether he was right and was this player an integral part of his time in charge, but for now we will just have to wonder who he is talking about.

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Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over

Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph

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(Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier. 

However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland. 

“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said. 

The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes. 

Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa. 

At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.

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