Sportal.co.nz 28.Apr.2012Getty Images
The Australian international was a prime mover in the Reds' 23-11 Investec Super Rugby win with his control and his tactical thinking.
"He was a good example for a young halfback. Anyone watching I thought he did a pretty good job. He kicked and ran at the right times and he executed pretty well. That's what you need, maturity there and it was certainly significant in the victory," he said.
McKenzie was mindful of the start scoring two tries in five minutes. They had done the same against the Sharks and had let it go but this time they didn't rest.
"We knew they would get their time with the ball. We had a fair bit of possession early on and the way the game works inevitably they get some time with the ball which they did in the second half and they looked better for that so in the end we probably defended the critical moments close to the line fractionally better than them but did a good job.
"We just got off to a bright start in the first 10 minutes. When you've got to chase the scoreboard it gets harder, we know that very well," he said.
"You get that scoreboard pressure and you can make it work for you. We haven't been able to do that in recent times but we certainly did tonight."
Captain James Horwill said the Reds defended well and had put good pressure on at the breakdown.
"That was part of our game, we wanted to make sure we chopped them low and got the ball on the ground and gave a chance to get our boys around the ball and have a go at it and that worked for us in big parts, it was a good effort there," he said.
It was the Reds first game against a New Zealand side in the competition this year and they face the Crusaders and Chiefs in the coming weeks.
McKenzie said he was delighted with the win, especially the first on Eden Park after the Reds had earlier won at North Harbour Stadium, and the side had got through the game without any significant injuries which was a bonus and he was looking forward to the games ahead.
"We've got 10 days to get ready to play the Crusaders. We love playing them, we've have a good run against them in recent times but we haven't played them down there, so it will be a good game.
"It was a bright game for us, the first game against a Kiwi side who tend to stretch the game a bit better and they did that tonight but our defence was up to it in the end.
"We know we're not in a great position but at the moment wins are a premium and we got one tonight," he said.