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Battle of the 10s: Plummer’s praise for ‘freakish’ rival Damian McKenzie

By Finn Morton
Harry Plummer of the Blues is tackled by Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs during the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and Chiefs at Eden Park, on June 01, 2024, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

It might be the most decisive matchup of the Super Rugby Pacific Grand Final. All Black Damian McKenzie will line up opposite the Blues’ Player of the Year Harry Plummer in an unmissable battle of the 10s at Eden Park this weekend.

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There’s always a lot of hype that surrounds the quarterback-esque position of first five-eighth in rugby union. Dan Carter and Jonny Wilkinson are considered some of the greatest players in history on the back of their success and execution under pressure.

Both Plummer and McKenzie will look to make their mark in the history books by steering their team to glory. The Blues are the hometown favourites whereas the Chiefs have been beaten in last year’s Super Rugby decider.

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Losing is not an option for either team. Before the focus of the rugby world completely shifts to the Test season, the flyhalves will go head-to-head as one of the multiple key positional rivalries to keep an eye out for in the big dance.

But all that’s said from the outside looking in. Plummer is looking forward to taking on “one of the best 10s in the comp” but is more focused on what the Blues need to do as a collective to get the job done.

“Everyone knows what ‘D Mac’ brings to the game in New Zealand and obviously a pretty experienced player and a pretty freakish talent,” Plummer said on SENZ’s Scotty & Izzy.

“To be perfectly honest, I haven’t thought about it too much in that way. As a team we’re pretty focused on the job at hand and what we need to do.

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“Obviously, one-on-one matchups come into it but we’ve got a team collective plan in place and we’re really just trying to implement that.

“I am looking forward to playing in it because it’s obviously a big occasion and what you want is you want to be playing against the best players and there’s no secret that he’s been the best 10 or one of the best 10s in the comp for the last couple of years now.”

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
4
Draws
0
Wins
1
Average Points scored
27
14
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
80%

Cortez Ratima joins McKenzie in a potentially Test-calibre halves partnership, while Rameka Poihipi will line up just outside the pair at inside centre. The return of Shaun Stevenson at fullback certainly hasn’t been spoken about enough.

As for the Blues, Plummer partners All Black Finlay Christie in the halves while Stephen Perofeta will provide the men from up north with another playmaking option as the starting fullback. That combination has been quite a success over the last month or so especially.

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Perofeta started the first six matches of the season in the No. 10 shirt but after suffering an injury, Plummer stepped up and passed every test with flying colours. The pair have started at 10-15 three times so far this season.

“I’ve always wanted to play 10 and I’ve always wanted to play 12 and then I got to a point where I just wanted to play,” Plummer explained when asked about his form.

“To be given the chance, when (Perofeta) got injured, to fill his place was awesome and get some time under the belt in the jersey.

‘When he came back it was feeling good and it just worked that he was able to slot back to 15 and I’ve really enjoyed working with him outside me.

“It’s probably just a confidence thing. Obviously, the more you play the more confident you get… when you’re playing behind a great forward pack and you’ve got some pretty electric backs outside you, it makes my job a lot easier.

“It’s a team where if someone is injured you’re just expected to jump in and take that jersey and run with it. It’s a case of obviously someone got injured and I got my chance and managed to take it.

“Obviously, pretty stoked with how I’ve gone so far.”

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Comments

3 Comments
M
MattJH 33 days ago

He’s the 3rd best 10 in the country right now, they should pick him. Doesn’t have the X factor we’re used to, but a calm head that gets a team in the right parts of the field isn’t a liability either.

N
Nickers 33 days ago

Plummer has been very good and gotten better and better. He is clearly preferred over Perofeta, and he has probably leapfrogged Cameron too as an outside chance for the 3rd 10 if they choose one for the ABs squad.

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