Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Dagg timing his run nicely

Israel Dagg is beginning to gather momentum for the Crusaders. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Dagg is beginning to gather momentum for the Crusaders. Photo / Getty Images

After a slow start for the Crusaders, Israel Dagg is beginning to gather momentum and his good timing wasn't merely confined to the field against the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

He scored two tries in a standout performance in his side's 42-14 victory in Wellington and it came after a midweek meeting with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who gave the fullback some feedback on his season to date.

Whatever Sir Graham Henry's successor said, it hit the mark.

"Definitely. It was bloody good to get some feedback from Steve," said Dagg. "It's all up to me, really. I just have to go out there and do my thing."

Hansen watched the match live and would have been a keen watcher of both fullbacks, given Andre Taylor's form for the Hurricanes following his switch from wing.

While Taylor scored a well-taken try, Dagg won the contest, as he would expect to given his side was up 32-7 at halftime.

The 12-test All Black seems to have come out of his slump which reached a nadir in the Crusaders defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria when two of his defensive mistakes resulted in two tries.

Dagg said the way the Crusaders forwards were playing was making things easier for him. Led by skipper Kieran Read, the Crusaders pack has hit another gear since returning from Pretoria.

In Christchurch they dominated the Stormers and handed the South Africans their only defeat of the season, before turning up the heat further on an under-strength Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium. Not only has the set piece improved, the directness of their running and work at the breakdown have gone to a new level.

Now they are preparing to play the Waratahs, who have lost four games this season, one more than the Crusaders, in Sydney on Sunday. "They play really well at home and they're coming into some form as well."

With the Crusaders beginning to click and reports suggesting All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw could be named in the reserves against the Waratahs, it's no wonder the mood is improving in Christchurch.

"We're just having fun. There's a great team culture here and the a real feeling of excitement," Dagg said.


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