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Damian McKenzie on course for round one return, will play fullback for Chiefs

All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie is on course to return for the start of Super Rugby, Chiefs coach Warren Gatland says.

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Warren Gatland updated where the All Blacks' livewire is at with his recovery. Source: 1 NEWS

McKenzie, 24, has been out of action since last April after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament - coincidentally against the Blues, the same team he's planning to return against.

The versatile playmaker's absence was felt by the All Blacks, missing last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan as Steve Hansen's side failed to defend their title.

Speaking to media today, Gatland gave an update as to McKenzie's condition, confident that he'll be able to perform come the start of Super Rugby on January 31.

"He's been managed well by the medical team," Gatland said.

"He's up and training fully, he's going to take a little bit of game time in the Blues, in the warm up game, and then stake part in some scenario situations.

"He should be fit and available for selection in that opening game against the Blues."

Gatland also nailed his colours to the mast as to where McKenzie will play - likely to wear the number 15 for both club and country -backing him to replace Ben Smith as the All Blacks' go-to fullback.

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The injured All Black is on the mend after a knee injury ruined his 2019. Source: 1 NEWS

However, that doesn't mean McKenzie won't be seen as a first-five option in the future, Gatland added.

"At the moment he's coming back and probably looking to start at fullback.

"We know that he can step into the 10 position, and in saying that, there's no reason why he can't go back and play at 10.

"Looking at him from a personal point of view, there's probably an opportunity at a higher level, perhaps in the All Blacks with Ben Smith having left New Zealand, is there a position for Damian to play 15?

"But it's really about us having that conversation about what he wants out of his game, what he wants as an individual and what's best for the Chiefs."

The Chiefs will kick off Super Rugby on January 31, taking on the Blues at Eden Park.