Marty McKenzie heading to Pro14 after failing to land Super Rugby contract

Super Rugby journeyman Marty McKenzie has left New Zealand to join Welsh side Ospreys on a short-term deal which will see him stay at the club until the end of the 20-19-20 season.

The 27-year-old first-five and fullback failed to win a Super Rugby contract for the 2020 season after plying his trade for the Blues, Crusaders and Chiefs since 2013.

It was with the latter side that McKenzie played his last two seasons of Super Rugby with, and played a prominent role with the Hamilton franchise this year after his younger brother and All Blacks star Damian McKenzie ruptured his ACL in April which ruled him out of the remainder of Super Rugby and the World Cup in Japan.

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The playmaker returned to his home province Southland in the Mitre 10 Cup this year after spending time with Taranaki, and helped the Stags to win their first provincial match since 2016.

A former New Zealand U20 and All Blacks Sevens representative, McKenzie has been brought in by Ospreys to provide injury cover to New Zealand-born Welsh first-five Gareth Anscombe, who suffered the same injury as Damian McKenzie in a World Cup warm-up match against England in August.

The elder McKenzie’s deal with Ospreys was finalised on Tuesday.

“It was disappointing to lose Gareth, but our focus was to bring the right quality of player into the squad for the remainder of the season,” Ospreys general manager Dan Griffiths said in a statement.

“It’s been a challenging start with World Cup representation and a series of injuries having a significant impact, particularly to backline resources.

“With the addition of Marty we have recruited a player who has been a regular feature for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, playing with and against some of the world’s top players on a weekly basis. He will bring experience, creativity and a fresh perspective on and off the field. We are looking forward to seeing him in an Ospreys jersey.”

McKenzie joins South African duo Marvin Orie and Shaun Venter as one of three new additions to the side, which is currently ranked second-last in Conference A in the Pro14, and lost its opening Champions Cup game 32-13 to Munster on the weekend.

“We’re delighted to have secured the signature of such a highly rated player in Marty for the remainder of the season,” Ospreys head coach Dave Allen said in a statement.

“He’s a talented outside half who has a good understanding of the game having played for quality Super Rugby franchises. Having spoken to him a number of times, I know Marty is eager to meet up with the boys and get on the field.”

Ospreys will next face under-pressure English and European titleholders Saracens in the Champions Cup at Allianz Park in London on Saturday.

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