Dear Cuzzie Tjastik
Hope Slovenia is treating you well my dearest cousin. Let your mum and dad know that the family is going well and let that little brother of yours know I owe him a few cheeky punches, or you could just give them to him from me ;)
Oh and how's your rugby going? Remember, cheek to cheek when you tackle.
I've got to tell you about this Damian McKenzie kid, he's a little genius.
He's been on the scene for a few years now and even when he had just burst on to the scene, he looked comfortable which is the first sign of greatness. On Saturday night he started at fullback for the Waikato Chiefs because Aaron Cruden is back healthy and the Chiefs looked pretty damn good against the Crusaders.
I know you love the Crusaders, a lot has changed since you were last here though cuz, they're kinda shit now.
First of all having McKenzie and Cruden in the same starting team is such an asset as they work very well together. When the Chiefs have the ball, they either spread themselves either side of the ruck which gives them a potent weapon at first-receiver on both sides or they combine, throwing the slickest of passes to each other and spreading the ball quickly.
I thought that these two might struggle to find the right combination, this was far from the case though.
Looking comfortable with each step up you take is one a few ways I judge up and coming athletes. Toughness and the ability to handle pressure situations are two other key aspects for me and McKenzie has them covered with ease.
McKenzie is a little fella who never shirks away from the contest against forwards and big backs alike. While McKenzie can kick and pass like any good play-maker, he's a nugget of a ball-runner who uses his quick feet and agility to get in-between defenders.
Rugby players are often stereotyped as being big meatheads and McKenzie is tiny, yet he throws himself into physical contests like he has no regard for his own personal safety. Whether he's recklessly running at a defender or gliding his way through defences, McKenzie is a great runner of the footy.
More importantly, he's effective in his physical work - you know how I told you about that massive Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo before the World Cup last year? Yeah well McKenzie tackled him into touch, one on one, too easy.
Then there was his kicking, off the tee and out of hand. Playing in Canterbury isn't easy as those folk down there are rabid, one-eyed fans and they were loud as trying to put McKenzie off as he lined up kicks. McKenzie just stuck to his routine, which includes a cheeky grin and absolutely launches these kicks. He kicked one from half-way and sent a massive kick into the corner, I don't know how such a small bloke can hold so much power.
I guess you could say that McKenzie reflects the kiwi spirit as he's not the biggest kid but he simply rips in as hard as he can ... and he adds some polish on top of all of that gritty work.
I know you'll be watching some of that Six Nations stuff, there's no one like Damian McKenzie in the Six Nations.
McKenzie is a freak and that's why I had to sent you this letter.
This kid will definitely play for the All Blacks and I reckon he could make the cut this year. I'll put a few pints of your favourite lager that if you tell you're mates about Damian McKenzie, they'll appreciate the heads up when he's slippin' and slidin' his way through international defences.
Chur Tjats, jah bless.