Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock tonight summed up Richie Mo'unga's importance to the team this season in five words: "Richie's done it all year".
The Crusaders No 10 was an absolute force in the side's 30-12 win over the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby semifinal, orchestrating the offence like a puppeteer.
Opening the scoring for his side with a try off a slick show and go before adding a further 10 points off the tee, Mo'unga accounted for half of his team's points, and his play with ball in hand was proving a handful for the Hurricanes defence.
Speaking after the win, Whitelock applauded the work of Mo'unga.
"He's pretty quick over those first couple of steps. He's pretty hard to keep up with," Whitelock said.
The Crusaders' win ensures the Super Rugby final will be played in Christchurch next weekend. It will be the third time in the past four seasons that the decider will be in New Zealand, with the Hurricanes playing host to the big dance in 2015 and 2016.
"The boys really digged in. We knew it was going to take a whole 80 minute performance and we were spot on," Whitelock said.
"We'd concentrated all week on us. I was really proud of the boys, they did what they said they would."
The Southerners defended well throughout the contest, forcing the Hurricanes into coughing up possession through errors, or conceding the football by kicking it.
Whitelock, who led a dominant performance in the engine room, said his side's defence showed how much they wanted to host next week's final.
"Defence reveals what the team means to you and the boys worked hard for each other."
The Hurricanes lacked execution all night — especially when putting boot to ball, and captain Brad Shields highlighted that.
"We let them off the hook pretty easy, turned around, and they scored pretty easy," he said. "It was a tough night."
The loss ends the Hurricanes tenure for Shields (Wasps), winger Julian Savea (Toulon), loose forward Blade Thomson (Scarlets), lock Michael Fatialofa (Worcester), first five-eighth Ihaia West (La Rochelle), and coach Chris Boyd (Northampton) who will head overseas to ploy their trade.