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ABs can fill McKenzie void

Newshub logoNewshub 15/04/2019 Ross Karl
a man in a black shirt: Damian McKenzie. © Image: Photosport; Video: Newshub/Sky Sports. Damian McKenzie.

The All Blacks are coming to terms with the loss of their star fullback for this year's Rugby World Cup.

Damian McKenzie is out for the season after suffering a knee injury on Saturday and was the notable absentee at today's first All Blacks Foundation Day.

McKenzie's painful grimace after hurting his knee has been mirrored by coach Steve Hansen when he heard the news but he is trying to focus on the positives for the 23-year-old.

"He's still young enough to make the next two, so it's just important that he gets his knee right," Hansen said.

McKenzie's brother and Chiefs teammate Marty, says he's confident Damian will cope fine with his spell on the sidelines.

"The first couple of days will be tough and after surgery, he'll be a wee bit down but he's resilient so he'll bounce back pretty awesome," McKenzie said.

The All Blacks task is to fill the fullback-come-first five's role in their dual playmaker game plan alongside Beauden Barrett.

"Well Beaudy can do it and Richie can do it," said Hansen.

"Ben Smith is getting better at it. Jordie Barrett can do it.

"We've got that covered."

One option is starting Richie Mo'unga at 10 and shifting Beauden Barrett to 15.

That pair are amongst 41 players in Wellington this week who are in World Cup selection reckoning.

They were the ones agreed upon last season with the Super Rugby franchises.

"There are some guys that aren't here that if you're picking it on form, probably would be here - but the rules are the rules and we're playing by them."

That means those who weren't there including  Ma'a Nonu remain in the picture.

"He's just being Ma'a isn't he," Hansen said.

"You have the subtle touches and you have the brutality as Anton [Lienert-Brown] found out on the weekend.

[We have a lot of players] in that position. It's great - wouldn't mind having that many in every position."

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