All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen believes new full-back Damian McKenzie will learn a lot from his Test debut against Argentina at the weekend.
McKenzie, was one of the Chiefs standout players this season, and after being part of the All Blacks’ set-up for the past four months he quickly discovered that Test rugby is very different to what he became used to at Super Rugby level.
“The speed of the game is a lot quicker and a lot more physical,” he told Stuff.
“It’s a big step up from Super Rugby. It’s all I expected.”
McKenzie came on as a replacement early in the second half in Buenos Aires but his arrival coincided with Joe Moody receiving a yellow card which changed the complexion of the match.
Liam Squire was also sent to the sin bin, shortly after Moody returned to the fray, which meant the All Blacks spent the latter part of the half defending their try-line as Argentina’s vocal and passionate supporters came in to the game which meant McKenzie had few chances to showcase his attacking skills.
Hansen said in the build-up to the game, that the Test scene would be a shock to McKenzie, as it is for all players, and the coach was pleased with the way the 21-year-old performed in difficult surroundings.
“Every debutant learns,” said Hansen.
“He didn’t really get the rub of the green.
“He came on when we were working to survive and he played his part in that. He got asked a couple of questions defensively and by and large he stood up to it.
“Whatever he did tonight he should reflect upon his first test jersey and be very proud of that.
“He’s worked very hard to get here and whatever he does next will be even better.
“In the end his performance is only part of what we’re going to see. He’s a kid that’s got a lot of talent and as he matures and grows we’ll see a lot of him.”