Crusaders left guessing on McKenzie’s role in the final

D Mac

McKenzie, who has started at fullback in most of the Chiefs' games before moving to first five-eighths later, started in the flyhalf role in their 26-25 win over the Crusaders in their last outing.


He gave nothing away about what his role might be on Saturday during Tuesday's training run.


Winning when starting had been enjoyable, McKenzie said, but with the players around him, whether at first five-eighths or fullback, made his job easier.


"Particularly with the way our forward pack's being going, they've given us some great ball which has allowed us to attack and get some front foot ball, so we'll wait and see what happens," he said.


Given a week off last week, McKenzie said he felt refreshed and excited about playing in his first final. Their preparation was concerned about going through their usual routines while having fun and enjoying it as a special week.


"It's really exciting for the guys who do get to play and head down to Christchurch to represent this club well, and to represent this region well. It's an exciting week, the boys are fizzed and [there's] heaps of energy around the camp," he said.

McKenzie's value has not been only in lifting the side's attack. He has landed crucial goals in the late stages of games, including in the last win over the Crusaders.


"When you're in those situations, and you're a kicker, you live for those moments, and you're either hero or zero. I've been fortunate enough for a few of them to go over, which has been great.


"But like I've said before, there are things that happen before that people might not see that build up to those penalties, or getting us into positions to kick a penalty.


"For me, it not changing too much about my process and managing to nail a couple which is nice," he said.


Interim coach Clayton McMillan had done a good job with the side, he said. He had been in last year to see how things worked and had come into the role in Warren Gatland's absence to develop a theme that worked well for the side.


He worked the players hard, was straight up in dealing with them but, at the same time, balance was important in his approach with the side. McKenzie said the coaching group had complemented each other, and the fun they were having while preparing was reflected in their play.


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