All the action as the defending champion Crusaders took on the Chiefs in a much-anticipated Super Rugby opening clash.

The transformation of Damian McKenzie begins in earnest this Saturday night.

Having played the majority of his Super Rugby career at fullback for the Chiefs, McKenzie starts at first five against the defending champion Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

While former Chiefs coach Dave Rennie often wondered aloud why you would move the best fullback in the world to first five, All Blacks Steve Hansen frequently championed a move from fifteen to ten for McKenzie throughout 2017.


"A little bit like Beauden [Barrett] I think he'll be better suited with the ball in his hand more often at ten," Hansen stated in the lead up to the Rugby Championship test in Cape Town last October, using All Black great Dan Carter as an example.

"Carter wasn't always a first five, he was a second five and we just felt when we moved him to first five that he had more opportunities to control the game."

First five is a position that McKenzie is familiar with, having played there at secondary school, age group and provincial level.

"It's obviously another step up for Super Rugby but I got a little bit of a taste last year in a few Chiefs games," McKenzie is quick to remind.

His most recent starting experience at first five is one that he'd rather forget, but learnt a lot from.

Behind a Maori All Blacks pack that was back-peddling most of the time, McKenzie had very few chances to impress against the British and Irish Lions on a tough night in Rotorua last June.

However, his All Blacks experience has provided plenty of positive lessons that will serve him well in 2018.