Damian McKenzie has been enjoying his time off, but admits the upcoming Rugby World Cup is heavy on his mind.

The 23-year-old All Black has been in Auckland this week enjoying the ASB Classic, saying it's interesting to see other top-class athletes in their element.

"I enjoy watching the tennis especially," he told the media while at the ASB Classic.

"Individual sports are a bit different to team sports, it's quite cool to see how they conduct themselves. And especially playing in this sort of heat and being out there by yourself. It's a good sport to watch."


While he says a well-earned holiday is crucial heading into one of the busiest years of his career, switching off has been difficult.

"The break's been good. I spent a few weeks down south with family and friends. [But] reality slowly started to kick back in, and back into footy season so we've had a good break but it's nice to be able to get back into things and start getting ready for a new year.

"It's just a fine balance between still enjoying time off and still making sure you're ticking things over with training. It hasn't been really full on but it's been I guess enough to keep chipping away at it and making sure you can come back in good enough nick to kick into the season right from the first round."

McKenzie also looked back on his 2018, a year which involved a change of role and mixed form for the All Blacks.

"It was a big learning [experience] for myself during the year. From being in the All Blacks to playing 10 and 15 and trying to get used to it, that was enjoyable. I really enjoyed the last part of our tour.

"I try and get out there and just do the best I can and try and play my game. I guess [that's] the beauty about playing more and more games, and getting a bit more comfortable in that position – and look we're always learning. It's been another good year.

"Obviously the World Cup is this year so it's a big year. I guess the things we can control is how we perform during the year and of course the main goal of the year is trying to make that squad."

His All Black teammate Beauden Barrett also said the World Cup was always on his mind and that he thought about it at least once a day. For McKenzie, he wants to just take it a day at a time, especially being a World Cup rookie.


"For Beaudie he's been there before and for me it's my first year having that opportunity to try and make the All Blacks squad.

"It's obviously in the back of my mind, but for myself I'm just trying to take every day as it comes, and try and play some good rugby during the year for the Chiefs and then hopefully things fall into place from there.

"It's obviously a big year but I'll try and focus on what I can do before that."