It's time for a changing of the guard.

No longer should Richie Mo'unga make the All Blacks squad only to watch the action unfold from the sidelines. No longer should he miss out on a spot in the match-day 23 altogether. No, it is time he is given what is rightfully his – a chance to shine with the No 10 on the back of his All Blacks jersey.

Throughout the Super Rugby season, Mo'unga has dazzled for the Crusaders. Yes, he's basically been playing behind the All Blacks forward pack all year, but take Mo'unga away from the side and, sure they're probably still going to win eight out of every 10 games, but they certainly aren't going to dominate every one.

With Mo'unga at the helm, the Crusaders have averaged 40 points in 11 performances. In seven matches without him, they averaged just 25; and he outshone the current national first and second choice No 10s at every opportunity he got.


Mo'unga lined up against Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie twice each during the season. In the 301 minutes he played in those matches, the only instance of him putting a foot wrong that springs to mind is his yellow card for playing a ball in the ruck – against the Chiefs in the Crusaders' first game of the season.

His game management has been superb all season, and he's shown constantly that he's not a one-trick pony. You only have to look at his performance in the Crusaders' semifinal win to see whether it's running the ball, kicking for space, or putting a teammate in space, Mo'unga has it in his arsenal. And he'll need to show it once more if the Crusaders are to win the Super Rugby title, as they'll be without loose forward Jordan Taufua (broken arm), while midfielder Ryan Crotty is in doubt with a head knock.

Defensively Mo'unga's been solid too, making 76 per cent of his tackles; a slightly higher success rate than that of Barrett and McKenzie (both 72 per cent).

As Steve Hansen said of Mo'unga ahead of the third test against France in June: "He's got a strong ability to drive the team when he's been given that opportunity."

Perhaps it's maybe time to, you know, give him that opportunity?

Why not give Mo'unga one game to show what he could do in a starting role at international level? If he goes well, great. If not, return to what's worked in the past; no harm done.

If form is at all a factor in selection, the Crusaders No 10 should be heading into the Rugby Championship as the All Blacks' first-choice playmaker. But while he's announced his claim to the position, the All Blacks' affinity for continuity in their squad – especially with the World Cup just over a year away – will no doubt see them stick with the tried and true combination of Barrett in the No 10 jersey with McKenzie making his impact off the bench. Sure, it's the safe option, but it could very well be a missed opportunity.

In the immortal words of Eminem: "If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you every wanted, would you capture it or just let it slip?"


There's no doubt Mo'unga would do the former.