Damian McKenzie signs three-year Chiefs deal
Outstanding New Zealand Under-20s playmaker Damian McKenzie has signed a three-year deal with the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise.
The 19-year-old's preferred position is first five-eighth, but he has also proven comfortable at fullback.
McKenzie was involved in the Chiefs Development programme earlier this year, and was brought in as an injury replacement for Robbie Robinson as the season wore on.
He thrived as a member of the Chiefs squad, and believes it is where he will grow the most as a player.
''While I was training with the Chiefs I learned so much and really enjoyed the coaching staff and the culture, so I am rapt to be given this opportunity,'' McKenzie said.
''The boys are very welcoming and I know I will enjoy being part of the Chiefs family.''
Coach Dave Rennie was equally happy with the signing.
''Damian is a quality young man who has made a huge impression over the past nine months.
''He's brave, has an excellent skill set and an outstanding work ethic. We're rapt he's committed long term.''
McKenzie was one of New Zealand's standout players during the 2014 IRB Junior World Championships held in Auckland this year.
Playing at fullback during the tournament, McKenzie was compared to Christian Cullen for his running ability and skill.
He played for New Zealand Secondary Schools in 2013 and the New Zealand Schools Barbarians in 2012, earning selection from Christ's College First XV in Christchurch.
McKenzie will be Waikato's starting first five for the national provincial championship this season.