McKenzie on sevens duty then off to Chiefs
Marty McKenzie will try to lead Southland to some sevens success this weekend in Rotorua before quickly turning his focus back to the 15s format as he attempts to revive his Super Rugby hopes.
McKenzie will be a key figure in the Southland team at this weekend's national provincial sevens tournament in Rotorua.
He has shown promise in the sevens format previously and when Blues coach Sir John Kirwan off-loaded him from his second year of his Super Rugby contract New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens came calling with a national sevens contract.
The original goal for McKenzie was to impress in Rotorua this weekend with the hope to push for a spot in the New Zealand sevens team for the World Series legs in Wellington and Las Vegas next month.
However, following the national provincial sevens tournament in Rotorua on Sunday, the 21-year-old will head to Hamilton to link with the Chiefs Super Rugby setup instead of heading to a national sevens trial camp in Mt Maunganui.
The Chiefs have some injury concerns in their fullback department, including McKenzie's cousin Robbie Robinson, who is a nursing a nasty hip injury which may rule him out for an extended period.
McKenzie has initially been called into the Chiefs for about a month but that could be extended depending on the prognosis of some of the injuries.
"It's all happened pretty suddenly, so I'll just go up there and put my head down and do what I'm told for a while and see where it takes me," he said yesterday.
"It's all sort of clashed. I can't be at the (sevens) trials for Wellington and Vegas starting next week in the Mount but those are the choices I had to make. I think with the 12 Titch has got there at the moment he is looking pretty strong, but if there is an injury, and he needs me, I'm available to go whenever he needs me. I'm kind of getting the best of both worlds at the moment."
McKenzie is hopeful Southland can have an impact at the national sevens tournament this weekend, which will start with a big game against one of the competition favourites, Auckland, tomorrow.
"I think getting Auckland first up might be a good thing, we might be able to trip them up early. I think that happened to them last year, you get them early in the comp, they've got a young team.
"If we play to our potential, and everything goes right, and we front up, I think we could take on any team at any stage of the day."
McKenzie concedes his team will be giving up quite a bit in size in Rotorua, but feels they still have enough to offer to be a strong prospect.
"We're probably lacking in size, but what we don't have in size we have got with players that have the ability to beat a player one-on-one, especially with the likes of Tayler Adams, Scott Eade and Bryan Milne."