Wallabies and Crusaders flanker Pete Samu is backing Richie Mo'unga ahead of Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie to wear the All Blacks' number 10 jersey for the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney next week.
After leading the Crusaders to this year's Super Rugby title, Mo'unga easily stands above the pack as New Zealand's in form first-five, however All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has thrown his support firmly behind current World Rugby Player of the Year, Barrett.
Speaking to Rugby.com.au though, recent Wallabies debutant Samu says that his Crusaders teammate warrants selection at the front of the first-five queue.
"He's been playing some outstanding footy and I think it will be deserving [for] him to be starting in that 10 jersey for that first Test," he said.
"It would be also special to run up against him if I get the chance."
Samu also praised Mo'unga's ability to perform under pressure, exemplified by his man of the match performance in the Super Rugby final against the Lions last week.
"I think when it comes to big games he goes up another couple of levels and he's a real good leader as well. I think put him in any situation and he'll take it with both hands.
"He's quite unpredictable, he's got some crazy feet and he's got a good pass on him, maybe if we shut down his time and space we might do alright."
The All Blacks' side to take on the Wallabies in Sydney will be named next week.