It’s been a tough few months for Israel Dagg – he has seen his Crusaders teammates absolutely rip it up in Super Rugby while he watches on from the stands. His national colleagues throughout the country have also been staking a claim for potential game time with the All Blacks, perhaps pushing Dagg further down the pecking order.
One only needs to look at the form shown by Jordie Barrett in the fullback position when playing for the Hurricanes in recent months to realise that Dagg has a fight on his hands.
Thankfully for Dagg, after making a successful return from injury when playing for his university club two weeks ago, he will make his first appearance in Super Rugby since he suffered that knee injury in March when he will line out for the Crusaders when they take on the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.
The 28-year-old isn’t too concerned about proving his worth to the All Blacks, he just wants to concentrate on putting in a performance for the Christchurch-based side.
“I am not even going to worry about that [being named in All Blacks squad], to be honest,” Dagg said. “It will be a great birthday present if I get there – I turn 29 on June 6 and am not getting any younger – but I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to be fast, play well,” Dagg told the NZ Herald.
The Rebels have shipped a lot of tries this season so perhaps this is one of best games for Dagg to make his return. He is likely to get his hands on the ball quite a lot and there should be plenty of space for him to run into. With little time left before Steve Hansen announces his 33-man All Blacks squad for the Lions Tour – Dagg will need every opportunity to prove his ability ahead of the impending arrival of some of the northern hemisphere’s finest.
Sean McMahon, Pundit Arena