It has been an eventful week for Damian McKenzie, but his decision to stay with the Chiefs is likely due to his comfort in the team environment.
In the eyes of some people, Damian McKenzie made a bad decision when he chose not to take up the offer made to him by the Blues.
But for the 21-year old, the decision to stay with the Chiefs could be because the “here and now” is not all there is to consider.
McKenzie is very small in size, and this is going to be commented on time and time again throughout his career. It is something that has never bothered Mckenzie himself, but with that says, the 21-year old knows it could be a disadvantage in many matches, and there was no denying that in the weekends 26-13 loss to the Highlanders.
McKenzie had much ball in hand but struggled to do anything of note against the Highlanders, but he showed just as much bravery as ever.
But, the stats back it up, McKenzie has not slotted any points for the Chiefs since the clash against the Hurricanes two weeks ago.
If he had have signed the deal offered to him by the Blues, McKenzie would have been the man running the show, and some say this level of responsibility coupled with more opportunities to run with the ball would suit McKenzie’s game to a tee.
McKenzie thrived playing in the first five position for the Mooloos in last years ITM Cup, but his form at fullback for the Chiefs in 2016 is what has lifted the curtain on one of New Zealand Rugby’s brightest young stars. In fact, McKenzie was on pace to set a Chiefs record for the most number of points scored in a single season and still leads the competition for the most tries scored.
One bad performance against the Highlanders where McKenzie’s small size was taken advantage of by the likes of Waisake Naholo has led some media commentators to question McKenzie’s decision to stay with the Chiefs for the next two years.
The other Super Rugby side believed to have offered McKenzie a contract was the Crusaders.
But McKenzie is happy in the Chiefs environment, and although he still eyes the starting role at first five, sticking with it for now suits the 21-year old, because he is learning more and more with each week.