Damian McKenzie volition miss Super Rugby adjacent twelvemonth arsenic helium takes up a woody successful Japan with Suntory, efficaciously replacing All Blacks team-mate Beauden Barrett.
Stuff revealed successful June that McKenzie was "likely" to permission the Chiefs to currency successful connected a one-season woody successful Japan, and the All Blacks No 15 confirmed past period helium was "still moving done it [his future], whether it's present oregon elsewhere."
Suntory were heavy rumoured to beryllium his apt destination, and NZME reported connected Friday that the nine wherever Eddie Jones is manager of rugby had so landed the playmaker for the 2022 season, which runs from January to May.
The 26-year-old playmaker has won 95 caps for the Chiefs and is young capable to travel backmost and scope the 100-game milestone, but his exit is simply a large stroke to the Chiefs' hopes of going 1 amended than their nonaccomplishment to the Crusaders successful the last of Super Rugby Aotearoa this year.
And, for a Super Rugby contention which inactive doesn't person a locked-in format for 2022 and beyond, his departure is besides damaging, considering McKenzie's marketability.
The quality comes conscionable 1 time aft Highlanders co-captain Ash Dixon confirmed helium was leaving for a two-year woody with NEC Green Rockets successful Japan.
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Otere Black, TJ Faiane, Tom Sanders, Patrick Tuipulotu, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Lachlan Boshier and Vince Aso person already confirmed their exits to Japan, wherever the adjacent Japanese Rugby League One has made nary bones astir its tendency to go the champion contention successful the world.
Japan's Top League has re-launched arsenic a nonrecreational contention and determination are important pots of wealth disposable to unafraid elite talent.
Losing McKenzie means the Chiefs are facing a 3rd consecutive play without 1 of their cardinal All Blacks, aft Brodie Retallick missed the past 2 portion connected sabbatical with Japanese nine Kobe. In 2019 they besides had McKenzie and Sam Cane sidelined for agelong periods done injury.
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Even portion McKenzie's Super Rugby Trans-Tasman run was ended 2 games early, acknowledgment to a reddish paper and suspension for a unsafe tackle against the Reds successful Townsville, McKenzie's interaction was specified that helium inactive claimed the 3 apical awards astatine the club's end-of-season awards ceremonial - Player of the Year successful Coaches', Players', and Fans' categories.
McKenzie volition enactment up astatine fullback for the All Blacks successful Bledisloe II astatine Eden Park connected Saturday, though the presumption remains highly competitory with some Jordie Barrett and Will Jordan pushing for the jersey.