He may be your archetypal 'waka blond' but don't make fun of Damian McKenzie's albino features unless you are prepared to shut down his dancing feet on the footy field.

The sparky 20-year-old Chief and Maori All Black has the Ngati Tuwharetoa bloodlines, so don't worry about that.

Also don't worry about the reigning New Zealand age grade player of the year's ability to shine under pressure. That much was evident after a difficult first half against Fiji last weekend, when Nemani Nadolo used him as roadkill on the way to a special try.

McKenzie dusted himself off and scored an important second spell try after a cut move with older brother Marty. Earlier he had shown his counterattacking skill from fullback and ability to identify mismatches.


"There was a lot of big traffic in front of me (on the try), so I thought I'd better change my line or I'll get put on my backside," said McKenzie after his first game for the Maori.

"It was a great experience playing for the Maori team. Not many get to do that. It was even better to come away with the win. Hopefully we can do it again this weekend against the Barbarians."

The Maori were not even on McKenzie's radar at the start of 2015, but this selection has almost made up for the fact he was not able to join the New Zealand Under 20s, due to Chiefs duty, as they marched to their first world title in four years.

"I was focused on Super Rugby, my first year in there. I was lucky enough to get a bit of game time, which I wasn't expecting. To get picked in this team was a shock, but special to play alongside my brother too."

The older McKenzie is Marty, who pulled rank by taking the goalkicks, from the No 10 position, against Fiji, No one was grumbling, though, as he slotted four from four.

"He's a better kicker. I let him take control and I just sit back and watch," says McKenzie the Younger.

McKenzie may have been one of the younger Chiefs in 2015, but he is far from the youngest Maori All Black, with Otere Black, Sean Wainui, and the Ioane brothers all born after his April 20, 1995 birthdate.

He has had a taste of what it is like playing for the Barbarians too. In 2012, Year 12 at Christ's College, McKenzie appeared for the NZ Barbarians Schools in a fine team that included Black, and defeated Australian and Samoan Schools. He kicked on from that auspicious rep beginning.


"That was awesome to be part of and a special club to play for. They have a pretty stacked team, so I am looking forward to this weekend."

That "stacked" Barbarians backline includes his Chiefs teammates Seta Tamanivalu and Andrew Horrell, not to mention some other prime talent such as Cory Jane, Patrick Osborne and Tom Taylor. They would all do well, though, to watch the hips of Damian McKenzie when he eyes a gap.