‘Chiefs ready to repay fans’ – McKenzie

Date published: March 25 2016

Fullback Damian McKenzie says the Chiefs' loss in their only  home Super Rugby match so far this season will be a huge motivator when they host the Force.

After loading up on airpoints during a highly successful two-week Super Rugby foray overseas, the Chiefs want to put their home record right.

The Chiefs top the Australasian Group with a 3-1 record, their loss coming from their sole appearance in Hamilton, when they fell to the Lions.

Star youngster Damian McKenzie says that 30-26 defeat will provide added incentive when they host the Western Force on Saturday night.

"It's massive motivation for us, losing that first game at home," he said.

"We owe the people of the Chiefs region a lot and we'll be doing all we can this weekend to put a performance on the park for them."

The Chiefs will go in as favourites against the Force, who are 1-3 and coming off a 41-6 defeat to the Hurricanes in Wellington.

But jet lag could also be a factor after a marathon road trip that brought wins over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth and the Pumas-laden Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Against the Kings, McKenzie continued his impressive start to the year with a 28-point haul from a try and a 10-from-10 return off the tee.

The fullback also dotted down against the Jaguares for his fourth try of the campaign.

While the 20-year-old's form has attracted the tag of "All Black-in-waiting", his own assessment of his opening month of the season is a down-to-earth "it's been not too bad".

"I've been just lucky enough to be playing outside some awesome people and been able to play my game," he said.

"There's still plenty to work on and I'm just focusing on every game as it comes."

His rates his goalkicking as his big improvement since 2015 and he had also tried to be more assertive on the counter-attack.

His kicking preparation involves a grin as he eyes the posts, which he explains is a way to help him relax and not to overthink his technique.

Noted as a five-eighth, a position occupied at the Chiefs by co-skipper and All Black Aaron Cruden, McKenzie has no qualm about operating at fullback, where played at the 2014 Junior World Cup.

"I'm really enjoying my time at 15 at the moment," he said.

"With our game plan, it allows me to get into the first receiver role as well so I've got the best of both worlds at the moment."