McKenzie’s razzle-dazzle style of play was deemed too ‘high risk’ by many older purists of the game, who lambasted his mistakes and opportunistic instincts.
The last 10 minutes of rugby explains why Damian McKenzie should never be the first choice All Blacks number 10. For all his brilliance he makes more mistakes than any other player in the competition.
— OURTEAROA (@OURTEAROA) March 30, 2018
*Grumbles* runs a bit lateral
— Bear Bad Man (@Bear_Bad_Man_) March 30, 2018
I’m not a Damian McKenzie fan. You can stone me later #NZLvFRA
— Lainey (@NZLainey) June 23, 2018
In the first test against France in the June series, Damian McKenzie came off the bench in a whirlwind cameo performance, lighting up Eden Park with crazy numbers.
However, the performance only cemented the view by some that he should be used as an impact player.
Heading into the second test, an early injury to Beauden Barrett forced McKenzie to play nearly the full match at first-five eighth, giving fans the chance to see what he could offer.
Even though the All Blacks won 26-13, many were unconvinced as they had played against a 14-man French side when McKenzie arrived on the field.
Well on this display I wouldn't be starting Damian McKenzie at No.10. #NZLvFRA
— Russell Brown (@publicaddress) June 16, 2018
McKenzie isn’t a world class flyhalf, he doesn’t deserve to play 10 for the All Blacks. Explosive runner, great decision making on counter attacks but he’s no playmaker.
— brandon (@brandonbydesign) June 16, 2018
Heading into the third test in Dunedin, close to McKenzie’s home town of Invercargill, the Chiefs playmaker was handed his first start in the 10 jersey even though there were other calls for Richie Mo’unga.
It's a no-brainer for All Blacks at No 10. Mo'unga starts as he's seen as the best run-on option after Barrett. McKenzie stays in impact role where they want to grow him.
— Marc Hinton (@marchintonffx) June 17, 2018
The older generation was about to be silenced by the 22-year-old Damian McKenzie.
The pocket rocket guided New Zealand to a mammoth 49-14 win as McKenzie scored two tries and set up two more in a virtuoso performance that illustrated the poise, accuracy, and decision-making to run the cutter for the All Blacks.
The performance tipped many off the fence into the ‘McKenzie at 10’ bucket, with one Boomer even retracting all previous negative statements made.
Smashing game from McKenzie. The All Blacks have 2 proper 10's.#NZLvsFRA
— Richard Thomas (@DRAG0NBL00DED) June 23, 2018
Take back all the negative stuff I’ve ever said about Damian McKenzie being a flibbity-gibbit he can kick-run-pass and has vision.
— Michael Donaldson (@mjwdonaldson) June 23, 2018
Let’s hope Damien’s critics back off now after that great performance last night, well played Damien ???
— Suzanne Clark (@SuzymaySuzanne) June 23, 2018
2018 Super Rugby Season. Damian Mckenzie >>>>> Beaudan Barret. Dont holla at me!
— ??? (@aratjiriange) July 9, 2018
Damian McKenzie is the best performing test player this year. So dangerous.
— Alpha Male (@Options____) June 23, 2018
Damian McKenzie unbelievable running balance & awareness such a talented player #NZvFRA
— Gibby (@gibby_craig) June 16, 2018
Is that Damian McKenzie or Danny Cipriani with those lightning-quick hands?? Both of them with huge playmaking opportunities today: what are your predictions for #RSAvENG? Could this be the blueprint for @EnglandRugby? @SkySports @ 3pm… pic.twitter.com/8PUe0HGAZb
— Will Greenwood (@WillGreenwood) June 23, 2018
Damian McKenzie is an unbelievable back up for Barrett.
Actually calling him a "back up" is not fair.
An amazing option.#NZLvFRA
— JB (@Jbeardmore) June 23, 2018
It was a defining moment in McKenzie’s short career but unfortunately, an ACL injury would cut short his 2019 season and rob fans of seeing one of the world’s best talents at the Rugby World Cup.
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