Super Rugby

O'Gara backs Hunt to fill flyhalf void

Ronan O'Gara (Getty Images)
Ronan O'Gara (Getty Images)

Christchurch - Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara is backing flyhalf Mitchell Hunt to fill the void left by Richie Mo'unga, who is sidelined with a broken jaw.

Mo'unga sustained the injury in a collision with Stormers prop Steven Kitshoff in the Crusaders' 45-28 win in Christchurch last Saturday.

Hunt, who made 14 appearances in his debut season for the Crusaders, is the likeliest candidate to start in this weekend's Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes.

Hunt rose to fame last year when his long-range drop-goal in the dying seconds of the match secured the Crusaders a memorable victory over the Highlanders.

And O'Gara wants Hunt to relish the occasion should he replace Mo'unga.

"I would say enjoy it," O'Gara told the Stuff.co.nz website.

"It's an opportunity, he knows that he can do it and he's delivered for his team-mates before and they have huge confidence in him.

"So, listen, it's 80 minutes. It's not Mitch Hunt against Beauden Barrett, but it's a chance for him to enjoy it and express himself. That's why as a kid you play rugby."

Meanwhile, O'Gara has revealed how 'disappointed' Mo'unga is to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

"He's very disappointed at the minute, but even since Saturday night to now there has been a change in attitude," O'Gara added.

"He is very positive, he is a very pleasant kid. The most important thing for us is that it is early in the season, I think Richie will be playing Tests for the All Blacks going forward as well so with every cloud there is a silver lining as they say.”

Lastly, the former Ireland great was asked about Barrett and he naturally heaped praise on the Hurricanes flyhalf ahead of the all-Kiwi derby in Wellington on Saturday.

"He fills grounds, he excites people. Everything that is good about rugby, is what Beauden Barrett does," O'Gara acknowledged.

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