Damian McKenzie says he is happy to remain in New Zealand and that his decision to ink a new three-year deal was an “easy decision”.
No sabbaticals are featured in the new contract that the 22-year old signed. Focusing on rugby, one game at a time, is the primary focus for McKenzie who says that the Chiefs is the best place for him to continue enjoying rugby, and life outside of rugby as well.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here and it was a very easy decision to stick around here at the Chiefs. This is an environment where I can be the best player, and the best person outside of rugby.”
McKenzie called it a ‘relief’ to have the new contract signed and sealed, the decision to stay with Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup (New Zealand’s Provincial competition) was down to wanting one sole base, in Hamilton, to play the majority of his rugby out of.
As well as Chiefs fans being happy, Waikato rugby fans will be doubly-delighted. Only earlier this week, Jonno Gibbes was confirmed as that unions new head coach. If McKenzie has any opportunity to be involved with the Mitre 10 Cup team, both appointments can only boost Waikato’s sense of positive vibes in Hamilton.
The deal with NZ Rugby ends long-running speculation that the 22-year old may head offshore. Previously, McKenzie had been linked with English club Leicester, and some local speculation that the Highlanders were considering offering a deal. In the end, neither option
Colin Cooper: McKenzie Deal ‘Secures the Future of the Chiefs’
When the deal was made official; Chiefs coach Colin Cooper said that the future of the club was secure.
“It’s very hard, especially for a quality player like that, to get a long-term contract. We are very happy that he has signed, he is such a resilient player and he’s quickly become one of our leaders who is well respected in the group”.
McKenzie’s new contract had been talked about prior to Cooper’s arrival at the Chiefs, but the new ‘man in charge’ had several meetings with the playmaker to discuss the future vision for the club.
He told Last Word on Rugby “I had a lot of meetings with Damian about the environment within this this, so I am just thrilled that he has signed for such a long time. That I fet to work with him for a further three years.”
Damian McKenzie ‘Easy decision to stay in New Zealand
— 1 NEWS – Sport (@1NewsSportNZ) March 9, 2018
McKenzie’s signature goes alongside several other key members who have inked long-term deals with the Chiefs, including Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, and Soloman Aliamalo. Cooper says it’s pleasing to have such a number of key talent ‘locked in’ moving forward.
McKenzie and the Chiefs will rejoin the Super Rugby competition next week after a bye where they will meet the Bulls in Hamilton.
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