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All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie coy on next move after Japan stint

All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie received’t but verify his subsequent transfer, however Chiefs followers can at the least relaxation simple figuring out their celebrity received’t be misplaced to a different New Zealand Tremendous Rugby franchise.

The 26-year-old is halfway by way of his one-season deal at Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath within the new Japan Rugby League One competitors, and all indicators level to him returning to play in New Zealand to make sure he’s eligible for the 2023 World Cup – the worldwide showpiece he in fact missed out on 4 years earlier attributable to a knee harm.

Nonetheless, so pleasurable and profitable has McKenzie’s stint been in Japan – apart from lacking a recreation earlier within the marketing campaign after contracting Covid-19 – the 40-test dynamo stopped in need of guaranteeing he was going to re-sign with New Zealand Rugby, with little question loads of profitable offshore provides to at the least give some consideration to.

Damian McKenzie hasn’t confirmed he will be back at the Chiefs next year, but said he won’t go to another Kiwi Super franchise.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Pictures

Damian McKenzie hasn’t confirmed he shall be again on the Chiefs subsequent yr, however stated he received’t go to a different Kiwi Tremendous franchise.

“It’s wanting just like the plan in the intervening time, however we’re nonetheless working by way of that,” McKenzie informed reporters from Japan when requested if he could be again in New Zealand, and Tremendous Rugby Pacific, subsequent yr.

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“You do miss the approach to life and folks, with household and stuff. However Japan’s positively a spot I’d love to return again to at some stage, whether or not that’s shortly or a little bit bit later, we’ll quickly discover out.

“It’s been superior to date over right here. However there’s no place like residence both.”

Final month Chiefs chief government Michael Collins informed Stuff he was very assured the membership’s pin-up boy could be again on deck in 2023.

“We all know he hasn’t fairly inked that deal, however all of the comms we now have had with him have all been actually constructive,” Collins stated.

“So, sure, I might expect him again right here subsequent yr, for positive.”

Damian McKenzie has played a big part in getting his side to the top of the table in Japan.

Toru Hanai/Getty Pictures

Damian McKenzie has performed an enormous half in getting his aspect to the highest of the desk in Japan.

Whereas Chiefs followers could also be lacking their celebrity first-five/fullback, who final yr was a constant match-winner within the aspect’s massive turnaround in fortunes, they’ll take solace in figuring out McKenzie has no real interest in heading to another Kiwi membership.

“No, probably not,” he stated. “I’ve been sorted extraordinarily nicely on the Chiefs, clearly I moved there straight out of college, and it’s a crew I maintain dearly in my coronary heart.

“And even simply watching them, as a lot as I’ve cherished being over right here with Suntory, you do miss the lads again residence as nicely. It’s a membership I really like enjoying at, clearly near enjoying 100 video games, that might be an superior achievement to convey up alongside plenty of nice gamers who’ve finished that as nicely.

“So it shouldn’t be a tough determination, I might have thought.”

Whereas McKenzie went to Japan with hopes of focusing extra on first five-eighth, he has began only one recreation within the No 10 jersey for Milton Haig’s aspect, with former Sunwolves rep Hikaru Tamura predominantly used there and the Kiwi as a substitute lining up at fullback.

However, such is the tempo of the sport in that a part of the world, McKenzie famous that with all of the alternatives in damaged play, he was nonetheless discovering himself at first receiver loads even when he had the No 15 on his again anyway – a job he had turn into accustomed to in recent times.

JRLO

Toyota Verblitz coach Simon Cron and Kazuki Himeno focus on the power of Japanese rugby, and Himeno’s love of the Highlanders.

And, having lately loved a hat-trick and 31-point haul in a match towards the Kobelco Kobe Steelers, and along with his aspect sitting on the prime of the desk, having scored a whopping 383 factors of their 9 outings, it’s truthful to say issues have been the breath of recent air McKenzie had hoped for.

“I believe the velocity of the sport actually fits the way in which I prefer to play, it’s not fairly as bodily over right here, however the ball’s in play for a protracted time frame, so that you’re consistently getting alternatives,” he stated.

“In order that was actually engaging to move over right here and play, and simply strive one thing completely different. Japan’s a fantastic place, I’ve visited it earlier than by way of rugby, the meals’s unreal, the persons are superior, actually welcoming.”

Maybe tellingly, McKenzie stated he hadn’t misplaced contact with the coaches again residence, giving him an concept of what they’d prefer to see from him whereas overseas “so when/if I get again to New Zealand, I hopefully simply get again into the routine of issues of how rugby’s performed again residence”.

Relying on how shortly he will get any take care of NZR finished, McKenzie may nonetheless be within the body for the All Blacks’ three-test residence sequence towards Eire in July.

And with Jordie Barrett’s potential transfer into the midfield, it does assist open up a spot on the again together with the hot-to-trot Will Jordan.

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