The exact reason the lightest player on the pitch shouldn’t run into a front row
Whoever was part of the committee that decided Damian McKenzie should be taking crash balls needs to take a stern look at themself.
For some strange reason, the Chiefs and All Blacks fullback found himself in a position where he was charging into the Waratah’s defence on Friday, and it ended just how you would expect.
With teammates from the pack surrounding him, McKenzie received the ball at the Allianz Stadium at pace. Though he had the option to distribute, he rather chose to smash into all 123kg of Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu. Latu is not a player anyone player wants to run into a rugby pitch, let alone a player that weighs 78kg, according to the All Blacks. That was 45kg the 27-year-old was giving away there, and that pretty much explains why he was flattened straight onto his back.
To McKenzie’s credit, he held onto the ball and the Chiefs actually were scoring a try the very next phase through winger Emoni Narawa. In fact, if the tackle was slightly softer, Latu probably would not have gone off his feet to compete for the ball, and therefore force a penalty advantage. Instead, he basically collapsed into the ruck after McKenzie fell straight to the ground.
The Chiefs went on to win the Super Rugby Pacific encounter 24-14.
Take a look at the tackle:
Well constructed from the Chiefs 🔨
— Stan Sport Rugby (@StanSportRugby) March 24, 2023
WARATAHS: Te Tera Faulkner, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Ben Dowling
REPLACEMENTS: Tolu Latu, Tom Lambert, Dan Botha, Taleni Seu, Zac Von Appen, Harrison Goddard, Harry Wilson, Nemani Nadolo
CHIEFS: Aidan Ross, Bradley Slater, John Ryan, Brodie Retallick, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Samipeni Finau, Same Cane (co-c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber (co-c), Bryn Gatland, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Alex Nankivell, Emoni Narawa, Damian McKenzie
REPLACEMENTS: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Kaylum Boshier, Cortez Ratima, Daniel Rona, Shaun Stevenson