Cometh the hour, cometh the mistakes from Damian McKenzie and the inevitable sense that for every game he wins for his team there will be another he throws away.

He probably gets a little tired of feeling that he is so readily blamed when things don't go right, but that is probably forever going to be his lot.

It is certainly going to be his fate if he starts a game with a high profile mistake that costs his side seven points.


The Chiefs will be able to locate multiple areas where they failed to deliver what they wanted against the Hurricanes on Friday night.

Their lineout wobbled too often. Their scrum couldn't find the dominance it was after. Gareth Evans and Ricky Riccitelli cleaned up at the breakdown and the backline lacked a sharpness in their passing.

But somehow so many of their issues seemed to be tied up in McKenzie's cavalier approach and more specifically the intercept pass he threw in the first minute that led to Julian Savea scoring.

That one pass told not only the story of the night, but to some extent, the story of McKenzie's career to date.

These long, inaccurate passes have become a feature of his game. He threw a shocker against the Wallabies last year in Dunedin that led to Israel Folau scoring.

He had another bad one against the Crusaders in Christchurch this year and it was a little alarming that he threw one more at the Cake Tin.

Chiefs' Damian McKenzie is tackled by the Hurricanes' Julian Savea. Photo / Photosport
Chiefs' Damian McKenzie is tackled by the Hurricanes' Julian Savea. Photo / Photosport

Alarming because McKenzie, it seems, can't find the ability to adjust – to find even a modicum of restraint to ensure that his attacking instincts don't become as much of a weakness as they are a strength.

And that is the problem with his game at the moment – there is no sense of him having accepted that he might need to dial back a touch.

He was rightly lauded for the way he played in the third test against France, but in truth, he didn't show a lot of variation in his game that night. All out attack worked and there was never any need for him to hold back.

The Chiefs, on Friday night, obviously wanted to play at pace and use McKenzie's attacking instincts to stretch what they knew would be a fast-moving Hurricanes defensive line.

They wanted him to be adventurous. They didn't want him to be reckless, though and it does seem that McKenzie is having difficulty differentiating between the two.

He also appears to have a view that he will exclusively double down – take a huge risk to try to make amends for another huge risk that has gone wrong.

Every now and again that works, but it is only every now and again and with a strong wind at his back in the first half of the quarter-final, maybe he could have atoned for giving away seven early points by continuously driving the Hurricanes into that bottom left corner of the field that they found so difficult to escape from on the few occasions they were put there.

At the moment there is no middle ground with McKenzie. He's never able to sit back and bide his time and it's his relentless desire to attack that makes him the most compelling and endearing player in New Zealand yet also the most frustrating.

The quarter-final was a big chance for him to display the right balance in his game; to prove that he can resist the temptation to try to make everything happen every time he has the ball.

Knock-out football isn't so different to test rugby in that mistakes are that bit harder to recover from and there needs to be a greater degree of control and patience to break opponents.