The Chiefs will begin their 2015 Super Rugby campaign with a difficult decision to make in the No.10 position.
If rumors of Aaron Cruden being unavailable for the opening round of Super Rugby are true, and with Andrew Horrell unlikely to be ready by the opening round, Dave Rennie and the Chiefs selectors have a potentially difficult decision to make between arguably the two best contenders, the brothers Damian and Marty McKenzie.
Both who played at first five during the ITM Cup are not only kicking options, but both possess some serious threats on attack.
Marty has the Super Rugby experience after getting three caps with the Blues in 2013, he also has international sevens experience for New Zealand, and was a major factor in Taranaki’s championship run in the recent ITM Cup.
The younger Damian has been touted as a bright light in the future for New Zealand rugby, being a standout in last years U-20 Rugby World Cup and following that up with a solid showing for Waikato just after signing a 3-year Chiefs deal before he had even played provincial rugby.
Kicking success stats according to the NZ Herald see next to no difference between the two brothers, Damian coming out on top at 62% while Marty sits at 60%. Marty had more success with penalty kicks, while Damian was the better with conversions.
Marty scored more tries during the ITM Cup, clocking in with 5 trips over the line compared to Damian’s 2.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said that Damian McKenzie was doing well and has put on a couple of kilos through some serious time at the gym. Damian also put in one of the best scores in the Chiefs pre season Yoyo test.
“He is still increadibly fit and lighting quick. He is developing parts of his game and is the first to acknowledge he has to tidy up his defense on that inside channel. We think he will have a good season.”
Marty McKenzie also said he was working on his defense and has been enjoying settling into the Chiefs environment.
“I am trying to get the tackles sorted out as well as the goal kicking. I am just trying to get those nailed out before the pre season. I guess when Aaron Cruden comes back he will be able to give us a few pointers here and there and we’ll be able to bounce around ideas.”
Two pre season matches in late January and early February against the Blues and Waratahs will give Chiefs management a good look at both McKenzie brothers who surely would have to get starts in either game either at fly half or at fullback, a position both brothers can also play.