McKenzie inks new deal with New Zealand Rugby and Gallagher Chiefs
Exceptional young All Blacks and Gallagher Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie has signed a new deal with New Zealand Rugby, recommitting with the national body as well as his Chiefs club through until 2021.
The versatile 22-year-old, a favourite with fans, has played 12 Tests since making his All Blacks debut against Argentina in October 2016 and more than 50 games for the Chiefs since making his Investec Super Rugby debut in 2015.
McKenzie said he was excited to sign on for the next three years in New Zealand.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity to have signed on for three more years. My time in the Chiefs jersey has been awesome to date and the support I’ve been given during my time in Chiefs Country has been amazing. I’ve had an awesome opportunity to be able to sign on with New Zealand Rugby and hopefully keep achieving higher honours in the future,” he said.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Damian is an outstanding young talent and we are delighted that he has recommitted to New Zealand Rugby. He had a busy year for us last year, starting in ten Tests, and came through really well. He grew in stature in his time in the jersey, developing his skillset and his game. That experience will put him in good stead for the future and we look forward to watching him develop further over the next few years.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Colin Cooper added: “I’m really excited that Damian has re-signed with the club for the next three years. He’s a great player with great character and brings a lot of confidence and stability to the team. The contract extension shows Damian’s long-term commitment to the Chiefs and I’m thrilled to be working with him.”
Mini biography – Damian McKenzie
A player with many strings to his bow and equally comfortable at fullback or 10, Damian McKenzie is an absolute livewire of a player, whether it’s marshalling the backline, taking high kicks, kicking goals or sparking long-range counter attacks. The son of dairy farmers, McKenzie was born in Invercargill, an age-grade national tennis player and schooled for five years at Christchurch’s Christ’s College, playing in the First XV for three years.
He played for New Zealand Schools in 2013 before his breakout year in 2014. McKenzie was a standout at fullback and as one of the New Zealand team’s goalkickers at the World Rugby Under 20s tournament held in New Zealand that year, scoring 25 points. He went on to make his provincial debut for Waikato later in the year, playing every game at first five-eighth and finishing as their leading points scorer for the season. He was named the New Zealand Age Grade player at the New Zealand Rugby Awards. McKenzie made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2015 and also first played for the Maori All Blacks that year.
In 2016, McKenzie played every game in the Chiefs’ starting line-up at fullback. He finished the 2016 Super Rugby season as the Chiefs top try-scorer and the overall second highest try-scorer with 10 tries. He also finished the Super season as the second highest point-scorer with 199 points behind All Blacks teammate and Hurricanes pivot Beauden Barrett. Selection in the All Blacks followed in 2016 and he made his debut against Argentina in October that year. McKenzie played ten Tests in 2017 and started every Investec Rugby Championship Test, earning consecutive man of the match awards against Argentina in Buenos Aires and South Africa in Cape Town.