Scott Robertson indicates NZR are targeting another Japan-based player after Richie Mo’unga talks

Colin Newboult
All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson alongside fly-half Richie Mo'unga.

All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson alongside fly-half Richie Mo'unga.

Scott Robertson has added Shannon Frizell’s name to New Zealand Rugby’s wishlist as the new head coach seeks to strengthen his options over the next four-year cycle.

Last week, NZR general manager Chris Lendrum revealed that they were hoping to bring Richie Mo’unga back to the country.

Mo’unga signed a three-year deal in Japan following the Rugby World Cup, leaving the All Blacks without a key playmaker for the next few years.

There were even suggestions that the 29-year-old could have ended his Test career by committing to Toshiba Brave Lupus long-term, but Lendrum is hoping to change that.

In talks with Mo’unga

He has indicated that they are seeking an early release from his contract which, if agreed, would provide a huge boost for the national team.

Frizell is another individual they would “love” to have back, according to Robertson, with the former Highlander becoming a key cog in the All Blacks back-row in 2023.

“He (Frizell) is obviously still at his peak, and he can still play great rugby,” the head coach said. “We have been monitoring him from afar and watching him over in Japan.

“Would we love to have him back? Of course we would. It gives us depth in the loose forwards, and we will see.”

In regards to Mo’unga, Robertson echoed Lendrum’s sentiments around respecting the fly-half’s current contractual situation, but there is no doubt that the All Blacks boss would relish having the playmaker back in the set-up.

“My job is to get the best players for the All Blacks,” Robertson said. “I am not going to talk on individual players but my role is to get the best All Blacks that are available out on the field for our country.

“What goes on behind the scenes, obviously we have to be really professional, especially around employment stuff. That’s all I can say, really, to that.”

‘It’s no secret’ – NZ Rugby confirm talks for Richie Mo’unga’s early return to All Blacks jersey

Frizell’s exit

While Mo’unga’s departure after the World Cup was disappointing for the New Zealand Rugby hierarchy, ‘frustration’ was probably the watchword in Frizell’s exit.

The flanker’s current situation remains unclear, but forwards coach Jason Ryan has previously been outspoken over how he was treated.

“I think that could have been done better, to be honest,” Ryan said in 2023.

“Shannon didn’t really want to go. So there’s a few things going on behind the scenes and I think sometimes that contracting stuff can be done a little bit better.

“He was at a stage … that something was thrown in front of him, and he didn’t probably have all the facts. I’m a big fan of Shannon. He’s got a lot of good Tests in front of him for the All Blacks.”

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