AT FIRST glance, Daniel McKenzie is a typical inner-suburban, Melbourne born teenager.
He enjoys hanging out with mates on weekends, played local football and basketball as a kid, and relished everything Caulfield Grammar had to offer both socially and educationally.
But the truth is McKenzie has special talents. His superior athleticism and ability to learn things quicker than most (both his parents are maths teachers), make him an exciting prospect.
The rapid ability to learn and adapt is a quality that coaches and teachers crave, and a trait that he exudes more than most.
Not that you’d be able to tell. McKenzie’s well-spoken, modest, doesn’t waste words, and according to Alan Richardson, is a terrific listener.
His self-deprecating nature is endearing, appeals to his teammates, and is sure to draw Saints fans towards him.
“I would love to play as many games as possible throughout the whole year,” McKenzie admitted in an interview with SAINTS.com.au.
“But I guess with development, I might have a few more months or years before I get to that level.”
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Behind Paddy McCartin and Hugh Goddard, McKenzie was St Kilda’s third pick last November.
It was a selection that didn’t yield much fanfare, but internally, the Saints were quietly chuffed to acquire the smooth moving ball-winner from the Oakleigh Chargers.
“He has great agility and tested in the elite bracket of speed at the Draft Combine,” Chief Operating Officer Ameet Bains said at the time.
“He can play in three parts of the ground so that appealed a lot as well.”
Part of the reason is he is seen as a genuine utility is because he’s 184cm, lightning fast and possesses clean skills on both sides of the body.
Four St Kilda players are 184cm: Jack Billings, Luke Dunstan, Jack Newnes and McKenzie – a precociously talented quartet that will have an integral role in the Saints march up the ladder over the coming years.
Much has been written about Newnes’ breakthrough 2014, Billings’ precise left-boot and Dunstan’s hardness at the contest.
McKenzie is more of an unknown, and although he’s happy to fly under the radar now, it won’t be long before his name becomes a household one.