A player with many strings to his bow and dubbed the smiling assassin by commentators and fans, Damian McKenzie is an absolute livewire for the All Blacks, whether it’s fielding high kicks, kicking goals, sparking long-range counter attacks or slotting in on the wing or first five-eighth.
Despite his relatively small stature, he never shirks away from the heavy traffic and has made a trademark of spinning out of attempted tackles by larger opponents.
Originally from Invercargill and schooled in Christchurch, McKenzie played for New Zealand Schools in 2013 and made his provincial debut in 2014. McKenzie made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2015 and also played for the Maori All Blacks that year. Selection in the All Blacks followed in 2016 and he made his debut against Argentina.
While regular fullback Ben Smith was away on sabbatical, McKenzie started every Investec Rugby Championship and Vista Northern Tour Test in 2017 and was in sublime form, earning the award for man of the match against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
He continued his form into 2018, playing 11 of the 14 Tests and scoring 55 points.
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