McKenzie back at the Chiefs after his Japan stint

October 26, 2022
Damian McKenzie is back at the Chiefs after a stint in Japan.

First-five/fullback Damian McKenzie has returned to the Chiefs, as expected, after a stint in Japan.

McKenzie didn't play Super Rugby last year - an absence that perhaps counted against his chances to make the All Blacks' northern tour squad. Instead, he has been named in the All Blacks XV.

While McKenzie, who has played 40 Tests, is no stranger to the Waikato Stadium fans, coach Clayton McMillian has named four fresh faces in his squad who may be.

Ngantungane Punivai, who has previously represented the Highlanders and Crusaders, has been signed to play on the wing or at centre.

Lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit also transfers to the Chiefs from the Highlanders. Of all the New Zealand Super Rugby teams, the Chiefs have perhaps the best depth at lock, with All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa'i and Josh Lord options there.

Counties Manukau wing Peniasi Malimali and Taranaki prop Jared Proffit secure their first fulltime Super Rugby Pacific contacts.

Of the 38 players named, 15 have played for the All Blacks. Seven are named in the current All Blacks squad, and five in the All Blacks XV.

“There is a lot of consistency in our selection with only four new recruits, and the return of fan favourite Damian McKenzie, as additions to the squad,'' McMillian said.

"This is reflected in our belief that we are trending in the right direction. Our relatively young squad is maturing nicely and we have developed genuine cohesion and depth across the squad.

"We look forward to getting into our work over the summer and hitting the ground running in front of our loyal fans next year.”

Chiefs director of rugby Warren Gatland said: "Over the last three seasons some young, talented players have developed exceptionally well. There is a nice balance between the youth we have in the squad and experienced internationals,'' Gatland said.

"There have not been many changes in the squad, and we believe we will benefit from that continuity. After making the semifinals in 2022, we hope that we would have learnt from that experience and can push to be in the mix again next year."

The Blues named their squad this morning, with the Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders to be announced today.

Chiefs squad

Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Bay of Plenty), Kaylum Boshier (Taranaki), Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty), George Dyer (Waikato), Samipeni Finau (Waikato), Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), Josh Ioane (Otago), Luke Jacobson (Waikato), Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato), Josh Lord (Taranaki), Peniasi Malimali (Counties Manukau), Damian McKenzie (Waikato), Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato), Atunaisa Moli (Tasman), Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau), Alex Nankivell (Tasman), Emoni Narawa (Bay of Plenty), Ollie Norris (Waikato), Simon Parker (Waikato), Rameka Poihipi (Canterbury), Jared Proffit (Taranaki), Ngantungane Punivai (Canterbury), Cortez-Lee Ratima (Waikato), Rivez Reihana (Northland), Brodie Retallick (Hawkes Bay), Xavier Roe (Waikato), Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Bay of Plenty), Bradley Slater (Taranaki), Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki), Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour), Angus Ta'avao (Auckland), Samisoni Taukei'aho (Waikato), Tyrone Thompson (Hawkes Bay), Quinn Tupaea (Waikato), Tupou Vaa'i (Taranaki), Brad Weber (Hawkes Bay), Gideon Wrampling (Waikato).


More Stories