All Blacks star Richie Mo'unga confirms Rugby Championship availability

Richie Mo'unga has confirmed his availability for the Rugby Championship, which will be contested in Australia over November and December.

A report Monday suggested Mo'unga was one of three star All Blacks to have indicated he would skip the tournament following the recent birth of his first child.

The report claimed that Mo'unga, and fellow new or soon-to-be fathers TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett, did not want to spend close to nine weeks away from their families with the Rugby Championship being contested in a "hub" for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mo'unga insisted that was not the case for him.

"I had discussions with my wife [Sophie] and family that I'm lucky enough to have had a month with my baby [Billie], she turned four weeks on Sunday," Mo'unga said Tuesday.

"But I do realise I am a footy player and I have a duty, and that's to play for Canterbury, and hopefully the All Blacks."

The All Blacks will face the Wallabies in New Zealand in back-to-back Bledisloe Cup Tests on Oct. 11 and 18 Wellington and Auckland, it was at last confirmed on Tuesday afternoon. All Blacks players will have an opportunity to see their families during that period in camp.

But that won't be the case when they get to Australia.

While Barrett, Perenara and Crusaders winger Sevu Reece - the other player named in the report - are yet to officially address the rumour, Mo'unga said those responsible for it needed to be held accountable.

"It was actually quite laughable, really. It was the first I heard of it," Mo'unga said.

"As players, we are made accountable for what we do outside of footy, or on the field, I think reporters who make up speculation like that should be as well."

Mo'unga did admit it would be difficult being away from home for nearly two months, while NZ Rugby remains hopeful that the final Tests of the Rugby Championship will be brought forward to ensure no All Blacks player is still in quarantine come Christmas Day.

"It definitely will be tough. You'd have to be a robot if it's not going to be tough for you when you're away for that certain amount of time," Mo'unga said.

"For me, before Billie came, rugby was number one and it's still number one, but I just have a little girl with me now.

"Priorities chop and change throughout the week. On my day off tomorrow, I'll be with Billie the whole day and make the most of that, and I know on Thursday when I come in here I've got to roll my sleeves up and get to work."