Versatile McKenzie like a 'fly in a bottle'
REACTION: Damian McKenzie's unpredictable nature and his versatility on the field for the All Blacks in their 25-24 win over the Springboks at Newlands has brought a smile to head coach Steve Hansen's face.
McKenzie showed how dangerous he could be in open space when he scored a great try in the 69th minute, which proved to be decisive in the end.
At that stage of the game, 22-year-old had already shifted from fullback to the wing after Nehe Milner-Skudder left the field with a dislocated shoulder earlier in the game.
McKenzie also quite frequently popped up in the flyhalf channel as the first receiver and gave the Boks a few headaches on defence with his nifty footwork
"You need people that can bust open a game and he is a little bit like a fly in a bottle, old Damian," said Hansen. "He is all over the place.
"Sometimes it comes off and other times he is sitting on the side of the bottle. He is getting better at it though as he understands what Test rugby is about, which is really pleasing and I thought he was pretty good tonight [Saturday].
"He was really assured in most of the things he was doing and there have been times where I don't think he knows what he is going to do, he just does it.
"I think he was really calculated in most of the things he did. He is growing all the time.
"I am on record as saying he is probably going to be a better No.10 than a No.15. He is starting to tell me that might not be right but we will wait and see."
Mckenzie probably had to agree with his coach's assessment of his style of play, especially after his performance at Newlands.
"He is probably not wrong to be fair," said McKenzie.
"Sometimes I spend more time running backwards than I do forwards so it was good to be playing out there tonight and to get a try in an afternoon game was awesome so I am happy with the performance anyway."
While Hansen will be wanting to see McKenzie more in the flyhalf spot, the young star is just happy to play wherever he his need.
"I am happy to play wherever they put me.
"Fullback and wing got their similarities about them, so its wherever they need me to go. I am happy to go anywhere," he said.
By Warren Fortune