16/08/2021; 6:03 AM By : Steven D. Thompson
Damian McKenzie, All Blacks and Chief superstar takes a leap in his career as he moves to Japanese side, Tokyo Sungoliath. This switch would make him miss out on the 2022 Super Rugby Season.
As the report via New Zealand Herald goes, Damian McKenzie has sealed a 5-month deal with the Asian side.
Given the recent rebranding of the top Japanese club from Suntory Sungoliath, it is not unfounded that McKenzie is joining a fast-paced team that is equally relentless about growing.
McKenzie is not the only hotshot that's making a recent entry into the Japanese Rugby League. His former teammate, Patrick Tuipulotu and Israel Folau (Wallabies fullback) are also making a grand entry into the Japanese Rugby League too. For sure, all eyes will be on them and it would be interesting.
There is no telling what McKenzie's salary is going to be seeing as there is no information about it yet. However, there is no doubt he would be handsomely paid, given their reputation of always spoiling their players. Case in point: Beauden Barrett's deal late last year reportedly earned him $1.5 million.
Beauden Barrett earned his salt as he was instrumental in pushing Sungoliath to their Top League final.
Barrett and Mckenzie share similarities in build and playing style, one could say he is the best fit replacement for the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year. However, McKenzie must make an immediate impact and it remains to see if he'll be able to live up to that pressure.
At the moment, it is being reported that McKenzie is yet to sign a contract with NZR that will guarantee his return to the team after his sojourn in Japan.
This reason is alluded to explain why both parties have been hush-hush about it and not outrightly releasing an official statement.
Coupled with his 95 appearances in the Waikato franchise, Mckenzie owns a house in Hamilton. However, no deal has been finalized yet about a return to the Chiefs.
Since 2016, Mckenzie has come through by playing 31 tests for the All Blacks and will commence at a fullback position for New Zealand in their second Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies.
Reports claim McKenzie was brought in by Suntory as they look to fill in the void left by Barret after he led them to the Top League final this year. They did lose that final to Panasonic Wild Knights and are now looking to go all the way this time around.
Sungoliath are currently managed by Milton Haig, while Eddie Jones, England head coach, currently has a role as the club's consultant.