Rugby World Cup 2019: Richie Mo’unga displays his class for All Blacks in rampant win over Canada

Given the way he inspired New Zealand to the largest win of the World Cup so far, it seems remarkable Mo’unga has only been an established part of this side since July

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Remember that time when there was even a debate about whether Richie Mo’unga deserved the New Zealand No 10 shirt? What a joke that was.

Fair enough, there was some logic behind the theory that they might, in fact, want to stick with Beauden Barrett at the helm.

He had been named World Rugby player of the year in two of the three previous seasons, after all, and the All Black machine was purring nicely with him on the tiller.

And perhaps the new boy should be judged on tougher tests than that provided by Canada in the 63-0 win in Oita.

But Richie Mo’unga, though. What a player. Why change a winning formula – unless you can make it this much better?

Given the way he inspired New Zealand to the largest win of the World Cup so far, it seems remarkable Mo’unga has only been an established part of this side since July.

In just his seventh start at fly half for the All Blacks, he provided the ammunition as they swept aside their opposition in a nine-try rout.

OK, so it was a mismatch. A side going for a third World Cup title in succession, against the team who were the last of the 20 to qualify for Japan.

But this was an exhibition, a show of handling excellence that was like the Harlem Globetrotters without the showmanship.

Other coaches at this tournament have been instructing their players to modify their passing techniques, in a bid to cope with the high humidity.

The ball becomes like a “cake of soap”, as Eddie Jones, England’s coach, described it – making a push pass the safer option than the conventional spin one usually favoured by rugby union backs.

The All Blacks just regard it as a challenge, though, and they raise their standards accordingly – although they still expect more.

“It was tough in the humidity under this roof,” Kieran Read, the New Zealand captain, said in his post-match TV interview.

“We were dripping wet as soon as we ran out to start the game. It was difficult, but it is something to work on and know that we are going to get those conditions.”

Steve Hansen, the coach, said the conditions mitigated the few errors his side had made.

“It was a pretty good performance, if you break it down,” Hansen said.

“It was really difficult conditions. The humidity is unbelievable. Lots of people at home will be wondering why they are dropping so many balls.

“It is really very difficult, so I think they have done well.”

Canada never stood a chance. Aside from Mo’unga, New Zealand had three Barretts, a Sonny Bill Williams, and a load of heavy artillery besides.

Each of the Barrett brothers – Jordie, Beauden and Scott in that order – got on the scoresheet. The latter two would have doubled their tallies, too, had they not dropped a couple of schoolboy errors.

Second-row forward Scott was through in the first half, only to drop the ball in the process of touching it down.

More remarkably, the great Beauden was clean through in the final throes of the games after a breakaway from distance. Although the Canada defence were closing in, he still seemed set to make it to the line, only for the ball to writhe from his grasp inexplicably.

Williams gave Hansen a nudge to suggest he is worth a starting place in the big games, too, with a fine all-round performance that he capped with a try. Rieko Ioane will have hoped he achieved the same, too, with his try.

Shannon Frizell also crossed, replacement scrum half Brad Weber got two, and Mo’unga – the player of the match – landed all eight of his shots at goal.

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