‘Matured’ McKenzie ready for All Blacks flyhalf chance

‘Matured’ McKenzie ready for All Blacks flyhalf chance

Damian McKenzie’s chances of returning to the All Blacks team seemed uncertain when he went to Japan to play for Tokyo Sungoliath at the end of 2021. However, his outstanding performance in the Super Rugby season for the Waikato Chiefs has forced the selectors to give him the number 10 jersey against Argentina. This will be McKenzie’s third start as a flyhalf in his 41st test, with the position previously held by Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett.

Despite being known for his electric pace and powerful kicks, McKenzie has been criticized in the past for being too flamboyant and lacking game management skills. However, these criticisms have faded away after his impressive leadership of the Chiefs in their journey to the Super Rugby Pacific final. McKenzie, who has previously excelled as a fullback, has solidified his position as the Chiefs’ flyhalf.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has shown his trust in McKenzie by assigning him the kicking duties for the upcoming match against the Pumas. This responsibility was previously held by Jordie Barrett. McKenzie acknowledges that his game has matured and he has learned the importance of kicking as a playmaker. His experience with the Chiefs this year has been invaluable in his development.

While McKenzie’s promotion may be temporary, he is excited about the opportunity to bring a unique style to the team. He understands that Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett are both exceptional players, and he does not consider the number 10 jersey to be his permanently. However, he is determined to play his own game and contribute to the team’s success.

In the match against Argentina, Beauden Barrett will start as fullback, with Mo’unga coming off the bench. This decision will undoubtedly spark debates among rugby fans in New Zealand regarding the best player for each position.

McKenzie is aware that his time as the starting flyhalf may be short-lived, but he is grateful for the chance to make a difference. He plans to stay true to himself, be instinctive, and play the style of rugby that the team has embraced throughout the year. His focus is on doing his job and contributing to the team’s performance.

In conclusion, Damian McKenzie’s return to the All Blacks team seemed uncertain due to his stint in Japan, but his exceptional performance in the Super Rugby season has earned him the number 10 jersey against Argentina. He has addressed previous criticisms and matured as a player, emphasizing the importance of kicking. While his promotion may be temporary, McKenzie is determined to make the most of the opportunity and play his own game. The debate over player positions will continue, but McKenzie is focused on doing his job and contributing to the team’s success.

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