Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie is on course to return to action in round one of the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
McKenzie, who has been out injured since April after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, is reportedly likely to return against the Blues – the same team he was playing against when he suffered the season-ending injury.
According to 1 News, the lively playmaker is back in training with the Chiefs ahead of the new season, with assistant coach Tabai Matson confirming the positive update to Radio Sport’s Jim Kayes.
‘He’s running and will be doing tackling all the way through December, and will be available at the start,’ said Matson.
‘It’s exciting to have a world-class player of that calibre back in the mix for sure. It’s great news for him and for us and for New Zealand Rugby.
‘He’s been one of our best for a long time. Nearly 80 games of Super Rugby and [he’s only 24]. It’s frightening that he’s got a lot more to give.’
The Hamilton-based side will surely be delighted to have one of the game’s most exciting players back in the mix, after his X factor was missed by both the Chiefs and the All Blacks throughout the 2019 season.
The Chiefs have also been boosted by the return of veteran Aaron Cruden ahead of Warren Gatland’s first season in charge. With McKenzie able to double as flyhalf and fullback, Gatland is – barring injury – spoilt for choice in terms of his backline options.
The versatile McKenzie, who has previously stated that he prefers the freedom that comes with playing at fullback, could potentially link up with Cruden in a double-playmaking role next year.
Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo and Etene Nanai-Seturo are just some of the Chiefs’ attacking threats for next season, with exciting youngsters Quinn Tupaea and Kini Naholo – younger brother of Waisake – set to make their debuts in 2020.
The Chiefs kick off their 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season with a derby against the Blues at Eden Park on Friday, 31 January.
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