Richie Mo’unga said the All Blacks were blocking out the outside noise of their unhappy fans and focusing squarely on the job of snapping their three-match losing streak when they take on the Springboks at Johannesburg this weekend.
The outhalf has played off the bench during New Zealand’s disappointing run, with Beauden Barrett preferred in the number 10 shirt for the two losses to Ireland and last week’s 26-10 reverse against the world champions in Nelspruit.
Coach Ian Foster and his team have been subjected to a bombardment of criticism since losing the July series to the Irish and Mo'unga said he respected the right of fans to vent their frustrations.
"It's very fair," he told New Zealand media in South Africa.
"They care about our team and care about our results, but it's also fair of us to not care about what they think because we have a role to do, a role to play, and hearing that isn't going to help us at this moment. Completing a job will help us win games."
The near frenzy of criticism had been tough on the younger players, and on the families of the players back in New Zealand, but had not impacted him much, Mo'unga added.
"I'm chomping at the bit to have another crack, but I’m also at the point where the outside noise doesn't matter for me," he said.
"It doesn't affect me. I'm at a stage now if you're not in our squad, I don't really care what you think, with all respect.
"We're trying our best, and we know it's not good enough for All Blacks standards."
Mo’unga came on as a 52nd minute replacement for the injured Jordie Barrett last week, slotting in at outhalf with Beauden Barrett moving to fullback.
With Jordie Barrett still suffering from the ankle problem, there is a good chance that Mo'unga will be named to start at Ellis Park as New Zealand seek only a second win in their last six matches.
"I'm really looking forward to hopefully getting a crack this weekend against the South Africans to show what we can do," he said.
“This is the level you have to adapt, and if you don’t you’re going to keep coming off second best, which we have the last couple of games.”
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022