PLAYER PROFILE #JWC2014: Damian McKenzie
allblacks.com 09 May 2014 Getty Images
Backline maestro Damian McKenzie won't lack for technical expertise as he prepares for the championship.
The former New Zealand Secondary Schools, Christ's College and Southland age-group first five-eighths/fullback's brother is All Blacks Sevens player Marty McKenzie while former Southland and Juniors fullback Brent McKenzie is his father.
Now a student at Waikato University, he is studying communications with a goal of looking at a career outside of rugby in marketing or management. He is playing in the Varsity team in the Hamilton competition.
He expects that he will be required to play fullback during the tournament but is happy with being able to extend his rugby CV as a result of that exposure.
"I've always focused on first five-eighths as a position but I am stoked to have the chance to play fullback. I'm learning as I go and it has been helpful having Leon MacDonald to work with me.
"I'm just concentrating on nailing my core roles which is working on a lot of oppositional play on defence. And being at fullback I expect a few bombs to be sent my way so I have been working on my aerial skills," he said.
McKenzie said he was rapt to win a place in the side which had involved quite a rigorous selection process.
"It was a long wait but it was all worth it. It [the world championship] is going to be awesome and I'm looking forward to getting into camp on May 20.
"It will be great having the best players in the country around us so that we can worry about our own job," he said.
While the tournament was being played in New Zealand for the first time McKenzie didn't think that would add to the pressure.
"There's always expectation but there is more motivation playing at home and we have talked about embracing that home town pressure," he said.
McKenzie has been part of the Chiefs development squad and is looking to gain a place in the Waikato squad for the ITM Cup.
"I will just keep trying my best and if I get a chance with Waikato that would be awesome," he said.
JWC2014 kicks off in Auckland on Monday 2 June.
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