The versatile and upbeat Damian McKenzie has taken things up a gear in 2016 and has been one of the standout players in Investec Super Rugby.
A player with many strings to his bow, McKenzie originally specialised at first five-eighth but was a stand-out in the New Zealand Under 20 team's campaign at the 2014 Junior World Championship, where he played at fullback. He has impressed in that position in 2016 for the Chiefs, where he has also performed goal-kicking duties. His form in 2016 simply couldn't be ignored by the All Blacks selectors and he was rewarded with a Test debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
McKenzie, who is affiliated to Ngati Tuwharetoa, caught the eye of the Maori All Blacks selectors with some assured performances for the Chiefs in 2015. He has also played for the Chiefs Development team in 2014, New Zealand Secondary Schools in 2013 and the New Zealand Schools Barbarians in 2012.
He won the New Zealand Age Group Player of the Year at the 2014 Steinlager Rugby Awards. The versatile player with a strong skill set, specialises at first five-eighth and was a stand-out in the New Zealand U20’s campaign at the 2014 IRB Junior World Cup where he played at fullback.
The son of dairy farmers, McKenzie was born in Invercargill and educated at Christ's College, Christchurch. He played for the Chiefs in the 2015 Investec Super Rugby competition, and caught the eye with some assured performances. McKenzie has played for the Chiefs Development team in 2014, the New Zealand Secondary Schools in 2013 and the New Zealand Schools Barbarians in 2012.
He made his domestic debut for Waikato in 2014, winning their Emerging Representative Player of the Year.
v Argentina 1 October 2016
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2015 v Blues
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Position: First five
Other positions played: Fullback
Now living in: Hamilton
Home town: Gore
Secondary School: Christ's College
Club team: University
Previously represented NZ: Barbarians 2012, Secondary Schools 2013
Studying or work outside rugby: Bachelor of Communication Studies
Other sports: Golf
Teams captained: Christ's College 1st XV
Career notes (National Rep Teams or Awards in Sport):
New Zealand Barbarians Schools 2012
New Zealand Secondary Schools 2013
Chiefs Development 2014
Waikato academy 2014
Christ's College 1st XV 2011
Favourite Rugby ground: Upper Christ's College
Favourite rugby player and why: Ben Smith. Always a threat when he has ball in hand. Great leader and role model for the game.
Earliest or best rugby memories: Pie and Fizzy after club footy
Biggest influence on your rugby and why: My parents. Growing up i always went to watch Dad play. He taught me all the basics of footy. Was always there to give me advice on what i needed to do to be a better player. Mum and Dad have always been supportive of me and are always following me around to come support.
On your itunes /iphone playlist: Ed Sheeran/Chase And Status
Non-rugby sports team: Brooklyn Nets
Sporting hero: Roger Federer
If you could meet one person, who would it be and why: Michael Jordan. Greatest Basketball Player of all time. Would be interesting listening to his experiences and stories through his time in the NBA
I hate it when…. i lose my phone
I can’t live without….. my phone
If I wasn’t a rugby player I would be…. horse trainer