All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga has laughed off reports that he wants out of the trip to Australia for the Rugby Championship so that he can spend time with his new-born daughter.
Mo’unga, who was named in an RNZ news report saying he was in a group of All Blacks who didn’t want to go to Australia, said inaccurate speculation can be damaging for family.
“It’s actually quite laughable really, it’s the first I heard of it,” he said.
“I feel like it's tricky when speculations like that do come out and it can be harmful or sad for family members, especially with uncertain times coming up, we’re not sure how long we're away for.”
“It’s quite sad for the wife to hear rumours sort of being made up like that.”
Mo’unga said his fellow father to a new-born TJ Perenara and soon-to-be father Beauden Barrett, who were also named in yesterday’s report, will make the decisions in their own time.
“I'm sure players with new-born babies and soon to be fathers will make those decisions and have those convos in their own times with Fozzy [Ian Foster] and management.”
Mo’unga, who will face Barrett and Taranaki this weekend playing in the Mitre 10 Cup, said pre-match banter had just been laughing at yesterday’s report.
The nine-week tour to Australia, including quarantine, would be tough, the 26-year-old admitted.
“You'd have to be a robot if it's not tough when you're away for that amount of time, but we're footy players,” Mo’unga said.
“We're dads as well but we’ve got to do everything we can to put food on the table for families as well.”
Mo’unga said he had spoken with his wife.
“[I] had discussions with my wife and my family, I'm lucky enough to have had a month with my baby, she turned four weeks on Sunday.”
“I do realise I'm a footy player, I have a duty and that's to play for Canterbury and hopefully All Blacks when they decide what's going ahead.”
“Fozzy knows that, we've had that discussion. Should I have to clear up today? not really, it’s between us, me and Fozzie.”
Long tours were a reality for All Blacks, even prior to the pandemic, according to Mo’unga.
“No one raised an eye around World Cup, I think we were away from home for seven weeks, end of year tour is about five.
“For me I’ve had the opportunity to be at home with my baby for the last few weeks, I was able to be there for her birth, and that's something I wouldn't miss for the world.”
“I'm only speaking for myself, not for other boys expecting babies or are new fathers, as I said they'll have their own conversations with Fozzie and management. What we can do is respect whatever decision they make, last thing we want is speculations going around.