Damian McKenzie, a defender for the New Zealand utilities, has announced that he would like to play halftime for Suntory Sungoliath Tokyo in the first game of the Japanese Rugby League and support himself in his selection for the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France. Rugby Fans can buy France Rugby World Cup Tickets from our website.
McKenzie is relaxed at halftime and as a fullback, serving as a replacement for Japan’s All Black Beauden Barrett, who took a six-month holiday with Suntory Sungoliath in Tokyo last season.
Willing to make his claims
Barrett and Richie Mo’unga competed in the All Blacks half-game. But now McKenzie also wants to prove he owns the coveted No. 10 jersey.
The former Chiefs player is gearing up for the start of the Japan Rugby League One season in early January. While eager to play before halftime, he’s also happy to be a full-back.
Mackenzie told AFP: “But I’m happy to play at fullback or wherever the team needs me. I think this is where I can play the most part in this game, I really want to play fly-half.”
“At Suntory Sungoliath we have a team-first mentality, but I like to play face-offs.”
The 26-year-old will have to sit on the bench for the All Blacks for most of 2021, with Beauden Barrett or Mo’unga from halftime, and Jordie Barrett even more so.
McKenzie knew he would have to work hard to be selected for the roster for the Rugby World Cup 2023 in New Zealand. But he believed moving to Japan would give him an advantage.
McKenzie, who was absent from the 2019 Rugby World Cup due to injury, said: “I am very determined to return to that team. It is clear that there is a lot of competition for my position in the country.”
“I’m confident in myself. I’m here to embrace Japanese rugby and Japanese culture, but also to develop my game. I think I can do this here and then take it home.”
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