Born: 20 September, 1923
Died: 11 September, 1985
Test record: 3 Tests (1949, 1952) – 1 try (3 points)
Tours: 1947-48 tour of Great Britain and France, 1949 tour of Australia, 1952 tour of Australia
Three-Test winger Bill McKenzie has the unique distinction of representing New Zealand from three Canterbury clubs: Hornby (1947-48), Prebbleton (1949) and Marist (1952).
The West Coast-born rugby union convert progressing through the rugby league ranks rapidly after switching codes in 1946. He broke into the Canterbury and South Island teams the following season before winning selection in the Kiwis’ squad for the 1947-48 tour to Britain and France.
The 24-year-old debuted against Swinton and made eight appearances on tour (no Tests). McKenzie again tour with the New Zealand team to Australia in 1948, playing two games against NSW and Northern Division.
McKenzie’s belatedly Test debut came the during the 1949 home series against Australia. He was on the flank for the 26-21 first-Test win at the Basin Reserve, laying on a try for fellow debutant and future centre great Tommy Baxter. McKenzie crossed for a try of his in the 13-10 loss at Carlaw Park in the second clash, latching onto a kick and racing away for the first of the match.
McKenzie moved north in 1950 and represented Auckland and North Island, becoming just the third player to turn out for both islands. He returned to Canterbury to join premiership newcomers Marist in 1952.
After a three-year hiatus from the national side, McKenzie returned to the Kiwis for the 1952 tour of Australia as a replacement for retired 1947-48 tour teammate Jack Forrest. His five appearances included the first Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but after the 25-13 loss he made way for champion five-eighth George Menzies’ return, with Cyril Eastlake moving to the wing as New Zealand carved out a famous series win with upset wins in the remaining two Tests.
McKenzie subsequently moved to Waikato, playing for the Ngaruawahia club.