While only 23 years old, Crusaders player and ASICS Ambassador Richie Mo’unga has had a standout career in NZ rugby.
Proudly sporting the No.10 jersey, Richie has proven himself to be a valuable playmaker in his squad. According to his coach, he’s the kind of player with an “attacking mindset that is willing to challenge the line, or spot the opportunity to move the ball.”
This year marks Richie Mo’unga’s fourth season playing in the Crusaders squad. Since joining the team, Richie has had an impressive rise through the ranks, having been called in by the All Blacks as a temporary first-five cover in October last year.
One of the areas where Richie really stands out is his kicking game. As his coach says: “Richie has really developed an all-round game in the No.10 jersey. He also has an exceptional general kicking game, and is slotting over 80% from the tee, which is crucial at Super Rugby level.”
There’s a lot that goes into getting that perfect kick, and it’s usually not as easy as it looks.
To get there, players like Richie have to train a lot. “To be the best you have to commit a lot of your day to your craft,” he says. And training isn’t just physical. “If you’re not training, there are many other things you can do such as video analysis, nutrition and recovery.”
The tricks of the rugby trade
For players at the top level, challenging themselves in fun and innovative ways is a huge way to boost their game. “Making sure that I get outside of my comfort zone and try new things is really important to me,” says Richie.
When it comes to kicking, Richie likes to keep his training varied and interesting. “As a first five you need to have a lot of tools in your tool box. Trick shots are an awesome way to try new things that maybe one day you can actually use on the field.”
For Richie, it’s always valuable to mix things up. “Keeping it varied prevents yourself from getting stuck in the motions and an old routine that doesn’t work for you.”
So how does Richie train when he’s not on the field?
“I love to do other training that’s not the usual rugby training.
“F45 Riccarton in Christchurch is something new I've been trying that is a lot of fun with functional movements that are easy for everyone. I find it easy and fast. And 45 minutes of intense training is a great option to fit in with a busy schedule.
“I also have been getting into Olympic Weightlifting, a sport that I would love to do if I didn't play footy. It really tests muscles in your body that you don't usually use.
“All this helps mixing it up so that I can keep my training new and exciting.”
Making childhood dreams come true
Having grown up in a sporting family, Richie got his big break when he was offered a full scholarship to play at St Andrews College in Christchurch.
Since then, the young player has seen some incredible moments in his footy career. In 2017 alone, he played for the All Blacks against France, and with the Crusaders, won the Super Rugby competition.
Both, he says, had been childhood dreams of his.
His success wasn’t without some challenges along the way. “I've had a few setbacks and through all of them I've had to reassess and set new goals.
“I guess people normally think the toughest part about footy is the fitness and how intense training can be. But I would definitely say the toughest part about training and playing would be the injuries. It’s something that comes with the sport, but it can be tough when you’re injured and not able to play.”
So how does he get through those setbacks along the way? “It’s important you stay positive through it all and control what you can through the process. That means doing everything you can to give yourself another chance.”
Whether he’s out on the field, training hard with his squad, or perfecting his kicking game with trick shots, Richie tries to always be present in every moment. “I've dreamt about this since I was young – and the fact that I have fun playing every day – it keeps me coming back for more.”