Damian McKenzie puts pen to paper
NEWS: Damian McKenzie has recommitted to the All Blacks, Chiefs and Waikato for another year after re-signing with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) through to the end of the 2023 season.
McKenzie, 27, recently returned to New Zealand after spending a season in Japan and said he was excited about the prospect of playing on home soil again.
“I really enjoyed my time in Japan, but it’s great to be home among family and friends and I can’t wait to get back on the field and reconnect with teammates and coaches in New Zealand. I’m passionate about Waikato, the Chiefs and the All Blacks and if I’m lucky enough to wear any of those jerseys again I’ll give it everything.”
McKenzie is sitting on 95 caps for the Chiefs and hopes to bring up 100 matches during next season’s Super Rugby Pacific season, but his first focus would be playing for Waikato in the upcoming NPC.
“It’s been a few years since I pulled on the Waikato jersey, but that’s where it all started for me back in 2014, so it will be awesome to get back amongst it with the lads and represent my province if I’m selected.”
McKenzie, who has played 40 Tests for the All Blacks, wasn’t eligible for the national squad named earlier this week for the three-Test series against Ireland.
Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan said: “We welcome back Damo with arms wide open. He’s not only a fan favourite but highly respected team member who gives everything of himself on the field. I’m sure he enjoyed his time in Japan and will have developed his game further by nature of the different style they play up there. But it’s great to have him back, he’s a few games off becoming a Chiefs centurion and there’s no doubt he will help us take another step forward as a team next season.”
Waikato head coach Ross Filipo said: “Damian is a drawcard player wherever he goes, and it will be great to see him back in Waikato colours and entertaining the Mooloo faithful. He will bring leadership and experience to the Waikato squad and always represents our province with courage and pride.”
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum added: “It’s a positive for rugby in New Zealand anytime a player of Damian’s quality and experience returns to New Zealand, and he will add a lot to the team’s he represents. He’s refreshed, he’s excited about playing for Waikato and the Chiefs, and he is as passionate as ever about pushing for higher honours, which is great. No doubt fans will be pleased to see him back on the field in whatever jersey he has on.”