Damian Sinclair McKenzie (born 20 April 1995) is a New Zealand rugby union player who plays fullback or first-five eighth for Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup and for the Chiefs in Super Rugby. He has also played international rugby for New Zealand, having earned 23 test caps since his debut.
|Full name||Damian Sinclair McKenzie|
|Date of birth||20 April 1995|
|Place of birth||Invercargill, New Zealand|
|Height||1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||84 kg (13 st 3 lb; 185 lb)|
|School||St Peters College, Gore, Christ's College|
|Notable relative(s)||Marty McKenzie (brother)|
|Rugby union career|
McKenzie has received attention for his trademark smile before attempting a kick at goal.
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, McKenzie has been contracted to the Chiefs franchise who compete in the Super Rugby competition. He has become a regular starter and is often in charge of goal kicking.
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, behind Waratahs outside-back Israel Folau. He also finished the season as the second highest point-scorer with 199 points (10 tries, 43 conversion goals and 21 penalty goals); behind Hurricanes First Five Eighth Beauden Barrett.
In 2018, Damian McKenzie was the SANZAAR Player of the Season for the third year running. He ranked top of the charts for carries, metres and defenders beaten in the 2017 Super Rugby season, while also ranked in the top three for clean breaks and points scored.
On 15 April 2019 McKenzie was diagnosed with a torn ACL suffered during the weekend's previous match vs the Blues in the Super Rugby competition. Due to the injury, McKenzie will not be able to participate in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
On 29 May 2016, McKenzie was named in New Zealand's 33-man All Blacks squad for the June Test series against Wales. Although he was part of the All Blacks training camp, he did not play during the Test series due to winger Israel Dagg's return from injury.
McKenzie was initially excluded from the All Blacks' 33-man squad for the 2016 Rugby Championship but was called up as injury cover for winger Waisake Naholo following Naholo tearing a hamstring. On 1 October 2016, McKenzie made his international test debut coming off the bench as a replacement for Ryan Crotty in the 48th minute during New Zealand's 36-17 win over Argentina in the round 5 of the Rugby Championship. On the 2016 All Blacks Northern Hemisphere Tour and following the All Blacks' first ever defeat to Ireland, he made his starting debut in the starting 15 playing at fullback in the teams' 68-10 win over Italy. McKenzie was not subbed off against Italy and played the full 80 minutes, with Israel Dagg subbed off in McKenzie's favour.
On 17 June 2017, McKenzie started for the Māori All Blacks at first-five-eighth against the touring British and Irish Lions in Rotorua. McKenzie played until the 67th minute when he was replaced by Ihaia West, with the Māori All Blacks losing to the tourists 10-32.
Despite an outstanding Super Rugby campaign with the Chiefs in 2017, McKenzie was not selected in the initial squad for the All Blacks for the Pasifika Challenge against Samoa and the three-test British and Irish Lions series, with the uncapped Hurricanes utility back Jordie Barrett being selected at McKenzie's expense. However, he was recalled to the team following Ben Smith's concussion in the first test. Despite being re-called, McKenzie did not manage to make the field in the black jersey against the Lions.
With Jordie Barrett ruled out for the rest of 2017 with shoulder surgery following the conclusion of Super Rugby and while Ben Smith took a sabbatical following the 35-29 victory over Australia on 26 August 2017, McKenzie received more game-time featuring at Fullback. The week prior which was a 54-34 win over the Australians saw McKenzie score his first try for the All Blacks off a pass from Rieko Ioane. His performances starting against Australia saw McKenzie become a regular starter for the All Blacks and he played in every single Rugby Championship test starting at fullback in 2017. Following a good performance against Argentina in Buenos Aires on 1 October 2017, where he scored a try and set All Blacks captain Kieran Read up for the opening try, McKenzie earned the award for Man of the Match. McKenzie earned that honour in two consecutive tests, winning the award the following week in the 25-24 win against South Africa where he played well and scored another try. McKenzie's try in the second test against South Africa saw him finish the 2017 Rugby Championship as the third-to-highest try scorer in the competition behind Rieko Ioane and Wallaby fullback Israel Folau, finishing the competition with four tries.
McKenzie's great form from the Rugby Championship continued in the 2017 end-of-year tests, with McKenzie having great defensive displays against Australia and France. McKenzie was able to maintain form and ended the 2017 season with good performances in wins over Scotland and Wales.
In 2018, Mckenzie was selected in the All Blacks squad for the June Test Series against France. In the first test he immediately made an impact of the bench, scoring a try from a 60m break, and assisting Ngani Laumape minutes later. In the second test Mckenzie came of the bench in the 10th minute to replace the injured Beauden Barrett. McKenzie had a mixed game, playing well enough to earn the start against the French for the 3rd test. Mckenzie scored 24 points, scoring 2 tries and setting up another couple, kicking 7/7 goals. The All Blacks won the series 3-0.
McKenzie did not get any starts during the 2018 Rugby Championship. Coming off the bench against for the first four tests, he was then sent home from Argentina for a family bereavement and was dropped the next week against the Springboks in favour of Richie Mo'unga. McKenzie played well throughout the Championship with the opportunities he got, only playing a total of 106 minutes throughout the whole Rugby Championship.
McKenzie got the chance to start in the starting XV, playing at Fullback in the third Bledisloe Cup match in Japan on the Northern Tour where he produce an outstanding performance combining with fellow play-maker Beauden Barrett in steering the team around the field during the All Blacks' 37-20 win over the Wallabies. He was then retained at Fullback for the rest of the All Blacks' Northern Tour matches.
Having torn his ACL during Super Rugby, McKenzie was not considered for 2019 Rugby World Cup selection due to injury.
- "Damian McKenzie Waikato Player Profile". Waikato Rugby. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- Stewart, Ashleigh; Hinton, Marc (30 May 2016). "Dixon a drought-breaker for school". The Press. p. A1. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- "Damian McKenzie signed a three-year Chiefs deal". Rugby Heaven. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- "Damian McKenzie IRB JWC Player Profile". Waikato Rugby. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- "Recap: All Blacks squad naming for June Wales test series". Stuff.co.nz. 29 May 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.