It wouldn't quite be the entire story behind his success, but a big part of Richie Mo'unga's rise to prominence can be traced to his decision to stop sweating the small stuff.

That, and his policy of not reading media coverage about himself, have been massive factors in him advancing from being a promising but erratic 21-year-old at Canterbury to the All Blacks' starting No 10 against Argentina.

It has been quite the dramatic journey for Mo'unga who says some of life's not so major happenings used to send him into a mental tail spin.

"I guess the biggest learning for me has been controlling what I can control," he says.


"I used to worry about a lot of things when I was younger. I used to overthink many things. Like the weather. Whether I should wear moulds or springs; what socks I should put on first.

"But if you have really genuine preparation and it is genuine every week there's no doubt in my mind about my abilities and what I can do."

The context for his answers were questions about whether his first start in the All Blacks No 10 jersey would require him to turn his life upside down in search of ways to deliver what he needs to do.

Richie Mo'unga is congratulated by teammates. Photo / Getty
Richie Mo'unga is congratulated by teammates. Photo / Getty

Mo'unga has coveted that jersey for as long as he can remember and has been within touching distance of it in the last two years.

A significant lobby of supporters have argued he should have actually touched it earlier than he has and much of late July and August was devoted to media hysteria about whether Mo'unga had earned the right to oust Beauden Barrett from the All Blacks starting team.

It was a hot topic, but not one that resonated with Mo'unga who has revealed that a big part of his philosophy in not worrying about what he can't control, includes cutting himself off from what others are saying or writing about his work.

"I don't read anything," he says. "I used to read the media when I first started playing footy. When you first start you want to read the good stuff which is said about you and it makes you feel good. But it is funny how things can change when you don't play so well. Things can feel different to you and your family and it is something I have worked on in the last few years…not reading the media.

"I was obviously aware of it [the debate]. For me it was never about me saying I should be starting ahead of Beaudy.


"I am just really grateful to be in this position. The experience he has…he is one of the world's best 10s…in fact he is the world's best 10.

"I have been rooming with him this week and have been picking his brain, asking him questions just as he's been about to fall asleep.

"We have had a lot of discussions. We have talked about things outside of footy so it has been helpful getting to know him."

In hearing Mo'unga reveal how he has evolved from an obsessive worrier to a focused, controlled thinker is essentially the key to understanding how he has risen as far and as quickly as he has.

That certainty in his own mind is apparent every time he plays. He is not so much bold as decisive and the difference is marked.

He's not a risk taker as such but when he backs himself he commits to his decisions and that spreads confidence around him.


When he makes a mistake he doesn't appear to be hanging on to it come the next play and probably most significantly, when he has a great game he understands that doesn't give him any right to believe it will simply happen the next time he plays.

Becoming a big picture guy has almost paradoxically allowed Mo'unga to be a micro manager of his own game and maybe the funny thing is that if he does play the house down in Nelson, he'll be the only man in the country not reading about it.