Get the Sport24 daily newsletter delivered to your Inbox!


    Stransky awed by Chiefs wunderkind

    2016-04-06 21:37

    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town – He has been one of the hottest performers across the conferences in the early weeks of Super Rugby 2016 … and Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie’s feats at the tender age of 20 have not escaped the attention of the Springboks’ World Cup 1995 flyhalf icon Joel Stransky.

    The emergence of McKenzie, an only recently-converted No 10, in the last line of the competition leaders’ defence has earned rich eulogies from scribes in the land of the current world champions, but Stransky weighed in enthusiastically from further afield this week.

    Speaking on the SuperSport rugby talk show “TMO”, Stransky said the multi-skilled dimensions brought by the unusually lightweight – by modern standards – McKenzie went a long way to explaining the Chiefs’ current pace-setting standards; they boast 24 points from six matches and five victories.

    “He just reads the game so well,” enthused Stransky. “He offloads perfectly, shows patience, and importantly has the vision to kick well into space when required.

    “He seems the complete player, and the other advantage is that they have Aaron Cruden as the No 10: that means two great decision-makers in the team.

    “Both are slight, small guys (McKenzie is 1.75m and just above 80kg – Sport24) but decision-makers and great runners too.”

    An ever more apparent trademark of McKenzie, in his extra duty of place-kicking, is his “smiling assassin” look in the immediate seconds before he strikes the ball.

    Said Stransky: “I love watching McKenzie kick for goal because the last thing he does is that little wry smile … he sort of visualises exactly where (he thinks) the ball is going to go. He just has real enjoyment of what he does.”

    The quirky ritual seems to work most of the time, given that McKenzie has landed 31 of 43 pot-shots at the posts and leads the Super Rugby “most points” category (with 108) by a runaway margin of 38 points from the Brumbies’ Christian Lealiifano (70) and then the Lions’ Bok hopeful Elton Jantjies (66).

    He also sports the most tries (seven), has beaten more defenders (30) than anyone else, leads for carries (82) and is second for most metres gained (463).

    On the same show as Stransky, another former Bok in midfielder Gcobani Bobo gave his appraisal of the collective Chiefs mojo at present: “Their fitness is (a big factor) … the way their players keep recycling, so they get into right positions and deliver the ball to the right people.

    “The other brilliant thing about the Chiefs is the intensity; the hard work (coach) Dave Rennie has put in. He’s empowered the players in their skill sets.”

    The Chiefs’ only defeat thus far came at home to the Lions in the second round, which says plenty about how Johan Ackermann has developed the Johannesburg team’s own game.

    But the Waikato outfit have already whipped the Kings in Port Elizabeth (58-24) and face just one more South African opponent in ordinary season, the Sharks, at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth on April 29.

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk


    23 February 2017
    • Rebels v Blues, AAMI Park 12:45
    24 February 2017
    • Highlanders v Chiefs, 10:35
    • Reds v Sharks, Suncorp Stadium 13:00
    25 February 2017
    • Sunwolves v Hurricanes, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 08:15
    • Crusaders v Brumbies, AMI Stadium 10:35
    • Waratahs v Force, Allianz Stadium 12:45
    • Cheetahs v Lions, Toyota Stadium 17:05
    • Kings v Jaguares, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 19:15
    • Stormers v Bulls, Cape Town 21:30


    06 August 2016
    30 July 2016
    23 July 2016
    22 July 2016
    16 July 2016
    15 July 2016
    09 July 2016
    08 July 2016
    02 July 2016
    01 July 2016
    29 May 2016
    28 May 2016
    27 May 2016
    21 May 2016
    20 May 2016
    14 May 2016
    13 May 2016
    07 May 2016
    06 May 2016
    30 April 2016
    29 April 2016
    24 April 2016
    23 April 2016
    22 April 2016
    16 April 2016
    15 April 2016
    09 April 2016
    08 April 2016
    03 April 2016
    02 April 2016
    01 April 2016
    27 March 2016
    26 March 2016
    25 March 2016
    19 March 2016
    18 March 2016
    12 March 2016
    11 March 2016
    05 March 2016
    04 March 2016
    27 February 2016
    26 February 2016

    Opinion Poll

    Jake White will leave his job as Montpellier coach next year. Where would you like to see the former Springbok coach, coach next?

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.