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Barbarians name Damian McKenzie in Wasps-flavour week two squad

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Damian McKenzie will swap sides next week when he lines out for Scott Robertson’s Barbarians after playing against them this Sunday for the All Blacks XV in London. The fly-half lit up Dublin last Friday with an extravagant attacking performance against Ireland A and he has been named again at No10 for the second and final game of the two-match AB XV tour.


However, rather than head home to begin his off-season, McKenzie will now stay on in England to feature for the Barbarians in their follow-up games at Harlequins and Bath, the Gallagher Premiership clubs who have arranged their matches with the Baa-Baas to offset cancelled league fixtures caused by the demise of Wasps and Worcester.

McKenzie will be one of three All Blacks XV squad members switching to the Barbarians as Levi Aumua and AJ Lam have also been selected in the 25-man squad that features six free-agent ex-Wasps players, three free-agent Worcester players, two ex-Wasps players currently on short-term deals at Munster, old Harlequins favourite Mike Brown, old Bath favourite Matt Banahan and fellow ex-England internationals Luther Burrell and Marland Yarde.

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Harlequins are first up for the Barbarians on their Premiership tour, hosting the famed invitational side at the Stoop on November 17 with the fixture versus Bath at The Rec following on November 20. A different Baa-Baas squad, coached by Geordan Murphy and John Mulvihill, will then assemble for the week three game versus Northampton on November 26.

Prop John Ryan, one of the ex-Wasps pair now at Munster, is the only player in this week’s Barbarians squad to face the All Blacks XV who will stay on for next week’s second leg of the tour.

Barbarians squad (vs Harlequins, Bath)
Abraham Papali’i, AJ Lam, Cathal Forde, Damian McKenzie, Elliott Stooke, Francois Hougaard, Gabriel Oghre, Gareth Simpson, Graham Kitchener, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Iacopo Bianchi, Jacob Umaga, Jacopo Trulla, John Ryan, Kieran Brookes, Kiran McDonald, Levi Aumua, Luther Burrell, Marland Yarde, Matt Banahan, Mike Brown, Murray McCallum, Olly Robinson, Tim Cardall, Tom Cruse.


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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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