Crusaders' first five-eighths, and All Black, Richie Mo'unga, will play his 100th Super Rugby competition match when he runs out against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Mo’unga became the Crusaders 23rd centurion against Moana Pasifika in round seven. That tally included his appearance against the British and Irish Lions in 2017 which is not included as a competition match. 

From his first contact in 2015, his inspiration from seeing the franchise centurions' portraits on the Crusaders' pavilion wall drove him.

"I wanted to be one myself. At the start, it seemed so far-fetched, and it seemed like it would take a lot of work and effort, which it has, but to play 100 games for the club that I love, and club that I grew up watching, means a lot."

When he first signed with the Crusaders, he joined a franchise that included Dan Carter, Tom Taylor, Colin Slade and Tyler Bleyendaal. Being in the same room with them was the realisation of a goal to play for the Crusaders that he had set with his father when they regularly watched every game they played as he grew up.

"It's a dream come true, and I'm just so proud that I get to do it with a team I love with all the boys that have been here with me from the start." 

Contributing to the Crusaders' six consecutive Super Rugby titles by leading their tactical plan began in the 2017 final on foreign soil at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, a traditionally gladiatorial ground for all New Zealand teams. For that reason, it remained a highlight.

That team, while keen, was inexperienced and had been nine years without a title. It was also when the Crusaders proved a lot of people wrong.

The six years had passed quickly, he said, because the side was focused on their weekly goals.

Crusaders' coach Scott Robertson compared Mo'unga with previous Crusaders' five-eighths Andrew Mehrtens and Dan Carter. 

"It's unique isn't it, when you go back-to-back. Three incredible players."

Mehrtens changed how the game was played, he said.

"He could play incredibly off his foot. He could put teams in the corner. DC [Carter] had the all-round game, and Richie has come in and lit it up in a different way. He's such a great playmaker.

"How he can get to the line late and play front or back, the stepping and the feet, that he can create so much. 

"He's a winner. He knows how to win. He knows how to close games out. He knows how to be brave in big moments, and that's grown on the biggest stage as he's gone along."

Robertson said he saw Mo'unga's qualities when watching him in club rugby. He played as if playing touch rugby with time and skill, and bravado, in his game.

He was special to both the franchise and Robertson.

"What's he's done for the Crusaders is incredible, on and off the field."

Robertson said his kicking game and ability to make the right calls and to demand from others contributed to the side's success.

Mo'unga acknowledged the role played in his development by Crusaders assistant coach Scott Hansen, whose first contact came through the Linwood club where Mo'unga emerged.

"He's been the one that's been there from the start since I started playing club footy for Linwood. I remember I had a meeting with him.

"I was just out of school and wanted to play senior footy, and there weren't many clubs around Christchurch that thought I'd be able to play senior footy.

"I remember his words: 'You're good enough, you're old enough, son.' Anyone who knows me knows that Scott Hansen has had a huge part in my career, not just with my footy but with me as a person, a human being, and a father. 

"I put a lot of my success down to his hard work, the way he keeps me driven. He inspires me every day and he's the man you want in your corner."

The Crusaders face the Melbourne Rebels on Friday 21 April, 7.35pm AEST, at AAMI Park, Melbourne.