Mo’unga looking forward to Eden Park cauldron

Richie Mo

In their five-championship run, only their first final, in 2017 against the Lions in Johannesburg, was contested away from home and first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga said they knew the occasion and atmosphere in Auckland would be awesome.

 

Mo'unga said finals week was something special and unlike any other week. As players they couldn't get any faster or fitter, and it was about doing the little things, the homework, the recovery, and mentally preparing for what was ahead.

 

They were coming off a semifinal against the Chiefs that had Test-match intensity. In an ideal world they didn't want to make as many tackles as they had, but it showed they were prepared to do whatever it took to defend their line.

 

"This week, there is nothing surer than that it is going to take more effort than what we showed at the weekend.

 

"We're coming up against an awesome Blues team who have been the benchmark for this whole Super campaign, so we know the challenge up ahead," he said.

 

Mo'unga didn't buy into all the talk about a prospective clash with rival Beauden Barrett. That talk was the same as it had been through the years.

But he did draw excitement to go up against one of the world's best.

 

Mo'unga said both he and Barrett were working towards their side winning the championship, and after that, it was All Blacks coach Ian Foster who would decide on who would be the Test five-eighths.

 

"The noise doesn't influence me much in what I want to do, it's still focusing on myself and the team.

 

"This is finals footy, I don't need any motivation to play well. It's been like that for the past couple of years. When it comes to finals footy I just want to do my best, do my role for the team to help my team get the job done," he said.

 

He said he found big games provided clarity for him around what he needed to do. It was important to play freely and not try to be a different person.

 

"I see clearer pictures and sharpen up images in my head around what I want to do and what I want to achieve. It just happens that I've been in a few of these matches and it's given me confidence to keep doing it and knowing that I've been there and done that before," he said.

 

The Blues host the Crusaders at Eden Park in the DHL Super Rugby Pacific final at 7.05pm on Saturday 18 June.

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