Rugby: Dagg decision not that difficult - Blackadder

The Crusaders have dropped All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg for the match against Super Rugby leaders the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday. Photo / Getty Images.
The Crusaders have dropped All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg for the match against Super Rugby leaders the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday. Photo / Getty Images.

In a sharp reminder to his team that mediocre performances will not be tolerated, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has said the decision to drop All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg was not a difficult one.

Dagg has found himself on the reserves bench for Sunday's match against the table-topping Brumbies in Canberra, with Tom Taylor replacing him at the back.

By his own admission this week, Dagg reckoned he missed five tackles in the narrower than expected victory over the Rebels in Christchurch.

He acknowledged he hasn't been playing well but will still be stung by the demotion.
Blackadder, however, told reporters after training in Christchurch today that it wasn't a tough call to make.

"Not really,'' he said. "It just comes down to form. Israel has had every opportunity to get out there and play well. He is not the only one who hasn't played to his full potential so far but he has just been really inconsistent.

"He even admitted himself he has not been on top of his game, so we have just decided to take him out of the hot seat and put him on the bench.

"He will get his opportunities to play his way back into this team,'' Blackadder added. "But, right here and now, that opportunity is gone.''

Taylor, back from a knee injury against the Rebels, shone at second-five, particularly with his goalkicking, kicking seven from eight and effectively winning the match for his team after the Crusaders lost their early lead. He is likely to continue the role at Canberra Stadium.

"He just does the simple basics really well - the simple things that Israel, I am sure, will be trying to get back to,'' Blackadder said. ``It's good - it is healthy, it is competition for spots. We see him as the best guy for the job this week.''

While the forwards are doing the business for Blackadder, the backs continue to be a problem. The Crusaders' leading try scorer is captain and loose forward George Whitelock, who has scored three - all came in the big victory over the Bulls in Christchurch in mid-March.

Robbie Fruean returns to centre after sitting out last weekend's match and All Blacks first-five Dan Carter starts after playing 30 minutes last weekend following his return from a hamstring strain and paternity leave.

Wyatt Crockett returns to the starting line-up as loosehead prop and Andy Ellis to halfback.

Crusaders team to play the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium on Sunday, kick-off 6.05pm NZT is: Tom Taylor, Tom Marshall, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Adam Whitelock, Israel Dagg.


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