Chiefs utility Damian McKenzie is on track to take the field for the Super Rugby franchise's season opener on January 31.

McKenzie ruptured his ACL during a match against the Blues in April, which ruled him out of the remainder of the season as well as the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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It will be a fine way to christen Warren Gatland's new coaching tenure, with the former Wales and current Lions coach taking the helm at the Chiefs for next season.

Chiefs assistant coach Tabai Matson told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport that McKenzie's progressing well.


"He's running and will be doing tackling all the way through December, and will be available at the start.

"It's exciting to have a world class player of that calibre back in the mix for sure. It's great news for him and for us and for New Zealand Rugby.

"He's been one of our best for a long time. Nearly 80 games of Super Rugby and [he's only 24]. It's frightening that he's got a lot more to give."

Damian McKenzie. Photo / Getty
Damian McKenzie. Photo / Getty

McKenzie will bolster the Chiefs' options at 10 and 15 as they work through their pre-season, adding in the return of former All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden.

They open their season against the Blues at Eden Park.