Stormers wary of Damian McKenzie

09 May 2018 - 12:50 By Craig Ray
Wilco Louw of the Stormers during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Reds at DHL Newlands Stadium on March 24, 2018 in Cape Town.
Wilco Louw of the Stormers during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Reds at DHL Newlands Stadium on March 24, 2018 in Cape Town.
Image: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images

Stormers assistant coach Paul Feeney sees Chiefs flyhalf Damian McKenzie as a huge threat when the sides clash at Newlands on Saturday.

McKenzie is one of four Chiefs players who will return to New Zealand following the match to attend an All Black training camp.

Feeney is expecting no holding back from the Chiefs on their fourth visit to Cape Town in the past three years.

The star utility back is in his first full season as a starting flyhalf in Super Rugby after three seasons as a fullback for the Chiefs and the All Blacks.

While he is learning the position‚ McKenzie is maturing rapidly according to Feeney.

“Damian McKenzie is very‚ very dangerous at 10. He was one of the best NZ schoolboy flyhalves and he’s back there after a few years at fullback. This is his position for sure‚” Feeney said.

“People question how he will go‚ but he has such a great skill set and pace. He’s another Beauden Barrett although he doesn’t have the same experience yet.

"He’s electric‚ he has a big boot‚ courageous in defence and great under the high ball. He has a lot going for him.

“Damian is a huge threat and week by week he is getting more familiar in the position too. The more experience he gains‚ the more he’s pushing the team around the park. He barks at the forwards now.

“He would also have benefitted from working under someone like Aaron Cruden (previous Chiefs flyhalf) even though he was a fullback.

"McKenzie would have learnt about flyhalf play and understanding how Cruden sees the game‚ just like Sam Cane did watching Richie McCaw.”

The Stormers enjoyed some good news too with captain Siya Kolisi likely to be fit for the clash after an assessment on his painful ankle following last week’s 29-17 win over the Bulls was positive.

He will have a final fitness test on Thursday.

This will also be the last outing for Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse before he joins the Junior Springboks in their build-up to the World Championships in France‚ meaning he misses the Sunwolves and Lions games before the June break.

Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis made a long-awaited return off the bench against the Bulls last week and can expect more game time this weekend.

“Damian Willemse is playing this weekend and won’t be with us much longer‚” Feeney said.

“But the longer he plays for us‚ it is going to be a lot better for the Junior Boks because of the speed and the intensity he has been playing at.

“He’ll slot in to their set up easily. He’ll be seeing that level of rugby in slow motion.” Jean-Luc has been great coming back‚ and he has a good rugby brain on him.

“We need to give him more time in the saddle this week.”