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Steve Hansen Considers A Switch To Scrum-Half For Full-Back Damian McKenzie

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 09: Head Coach Steve Hansen talks to the media during a New Zealand All Blacks media conference at The Heritage on June 9, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

All Blacks Head coach Steve Hansen has said that he’s open to Chiefs full-back Damian McKenzie making the switch to scrum-half but he’d like to see the versatile 21-year-old have a shot at number 10 first before trying to make the switch to nine.

“We would bring Damian into play halfback, he trained there this morning when we did a clarity run and he’ll get a bit of time in the opposition at halfback when we train this afternoon probably,” Hansen told TVNZ on Thursday.

With TJ Perenara set to retain the starting scrum-half role in the absence of Aaron Smith, who has been handed a one game suspension following an incident with a female in a Christchurch Airport toilet last month, Hansen needs to consider other options at nine in case anything should happen to third-choice scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

With Smith only suspended for one game, and with Perenara and Kerr-Barlow both fit and readily available, it’s highly unlikely that McKenzie will actually see any meaningful gametime at scrum-half for the All Blacks in the near future.

However, Hansen did say that he’d like to see McKenzie have a shot at fly-half first before he considers moving the Southland native to halfback, which is obviously first and foremost a logical progression for the Chiefs playmaker, but it also may signal that Hansen see’s McKenzie as a better 10 than a 15.

“Oh look I’d like to see him play 10 before he starts playing nine,” Hansen added.

“If he can get that part of his job right then we might think about playing him at nine. Look he’d play anywhere I think that kid, you could put him in at hooker and he’d be silly enough to play there.”

According to TVNZ, should the All Blacks lose their only two remaining halfback specialists – TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow – before kick-off, reserve outhalf Lima Sopoaga would  start at halfback with McKenzie brought onto the bench.

New Zealand Squad To Play South Africa

FB 15 Ben Smith
RW 14 Israel Dagg
OC 13 Anton Lienert-Brown
IC 12 Ryan Crotty
LW 11 Waisake Naholo
FH 10 Beauden Barrett
SH 9 TJ Perenara
N8 8 Kieran Read (c)
OF 7 Matt Todd
BF 6 Jerome Kaino
RL 5 Sam Whitelock
LL 4 Brodie Retallick
TP 3 Owen Franks
HK 2 Dane Coles
LP 1 Joe Moody
Replacements:
HK 16 Codie Taylor
PR 17 Wyatt Crockett
PR 18 Charlie Faumuina
FL 19 Liam Squire
FL 20 Ardie Savea
SH 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow
FH 22 Lima Sopoaga
CE 23 George Moala
Coach:
New Zealand Steve Hansen

 

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.