All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie has confirmed his return to the New Zealand rugby scene, confirming he's back for Waikato and the Chiefs on a deal until the end of 2023.
McKenzie announced his return on Friday afternoon after spending this season in Japan playing for Tokyo Sungoliath.
“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," McKenzie said.
"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 returns to the Chiefs with 95 Super Rugby caps to his name and hopes to bring up his 100th game with them next season but in the mean time he will turn his attentions to playing for Waikato in the 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.”
Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said he was stoked to have the 40-Test playmaker back.
“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," McMillan said.
"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.”
McKenzie enjoyed a strong season with Tokyo Sungoliath, guiding the team to the final of this year's League One competition as the leading point-scorer with 191 points.
However, McKenzie and his side went down 18-12 in the final to the Saitama Wild Knights.