'Richie Mo’unga is due a bad game‚' says former Bok wing Bryan Habana
The Richie Mo’unga magic carpet ride has made a few uncharacteristic loops this season but it is the one he comes up with in Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Jaguares he hopes will remain etched in rugby lovers’ consciousness.
Earlier this week his image was restored to its full sheen when an investigation into his behaviour while on tour with the Crusaders in Cape Town produced a positive conclusion for the pivot.
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It was alleged that he spat beer at a woman and her friends in a bar before inappropriately touching her‚ but the investigation found allegations could not be substantiated.
Mo’unga is thus free to play in Saturday’s final in Christchurch and continue the spell he has cast over the opposition this season.
This season he has taken centre stage and even the Beauden Barrett show has now banished to the shadows.
Surely Mo’unga can’t sustain this rich vein of form and at some point his bubble has to burst?
“He is due a bad game‚” said former Bok wing Bryan Habana.
The reason for the former Bok speedster arrived at this conclusion may have less to do with Mo’unga himself than regular inside centre Ryan Crotty who is out injured.
“Ryan Crotty not being available for the final might make a difference.
"He brings a wealth of experience and calmness to that backline and really allows Richie to play his natural game.
"He might be due a bad game but he's got that experience of playing so well at the moment‚” Habana slightly tempered his view.
“What a talent he is. There has been a lot of talk about him overcoming the Beauden Barrett factor and potentially being the starting 10 for the All Blacks.
“For the Crusaders‚ Richie is a guy much like the Dan Carters‚ Andrew Mehrtens of the past.
"He is the guy that gives the team direction.
"He is bringing an attacking dimension the Crusaders must be enjoying from their flyhalf‚” said Habana‚ who is hosting the Vodacom Red Tour en route to the final.
Habana and 23 others have made Dubai their base over the last few days before jetting out on a marathon flight to Christchurch on Thursday.
There will be a sharp drop in temperature but the former wing is expecting some fireworks from the back axis in the respective teams on display in Saturday’s final.
“The back three of both sides are pretty exciting‚" he said.
"(Sevu) Reece has been in exceptional form this year. He’s been displaying an astounding set of skills.
"(Emiliano) Boffelli for the Jaguares has come into his own the last two to three years.
"He was nominated World Rugby player of the year last year. I think the back three clashes will be pretty intense.”