Cooper - 'McKenzie right fit at 10'

Damian McKenzie (Getty)
Damian McKenzie (Getty)

Cape Town - Maori All Blacks head coach Colin Cooper believes Damian McKenzie is the right man at number 10 to counteract the Lions' rush defence.

Cooper, who will become the Chiefs coach in Super Rugby next year, has picked McKenzie at flyhalf for the match with the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.

McKenzie has been a regular feature at fullback this season in Super Rugby with the Chiefs while Aaron Cruden has played at flyhalf. But with Cruden departing for France, McKenzie's selection at number 10 could be a sign of things to come for the Waikato-based outfit.

McKenzie was unlucky to miss out on All Blacks selection with Hurricanes talent Jordie Barrett being preferred as deputy to Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.

However, according to Cooper, McKenzie is the sort of game-breaker the Maori All Blacks need in the face of the Lions' line-speed on defence.

"It's the style we want to play, and the threat he offers with his kicking game, particularly against the Lions' line speed, so to utilise his speed and ability in that space," Cooper told Stuff.

"We work really closely with the All Blacks," Cooper said.

"I want these players to be proud of who they are, and they get an opportunity to represent Maori, New Zealand rugby, and aspire to be in the best team in the world, which is the All Blacks."

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