All Blacks: Remarkable try drought continues for Dagg

By Patrick McKendry of APNZ in London

Israel Dagg hasn't scored for the All Blacks for 12 months. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Dagg hasn't scored for the All Blacks for 12 months. Photo / Getty Images

For an outside back in good form, Israel Dagg is having a tough time getting over the opposition's try line.

The All Blacks fullback, known for his brilliant counter-attacking and uncanny sense of being in the right place at the right time, has not scored a test try all year.

His last five-pointer came against Scotland at Murrayfield almost exactly 12 months ago - a run of 13 tests without a try. His last points came via a penalty against Australia in Wellington in August. For a man who announced himself on the world stage with two brilliant tries in two tests against South Africa in 2010, it's a curious position to be in.

Asked about it in London ahead of his side's showdown against England at Twickenham on Sunday morning, Dagg denied he was frustrated by his inability to dot down.

"I've just got to do my job and if I'm giving that final pass to the wingers and they're scoring tries then that's as good as scoring in my eyes,'' he said.

"I might get one this week, you never know.

"I nearly scored one in the Aussie game but I tripped up and gave it to Sam Cane. It's just one of those things, I just have to nail my role.''

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Dagg was one of the best backs on the field in that third Bledisloe Cup test against Australian in Dunedin. After a slow start to the year with the Crusaders, Dagg has progressed nicely to the point where he is one of the most consistent operators for the national team.

His ability to see space means will always be a conduit for his wings. Julian Savea, like Cane, also reaped the benefits of a Dagg pass in Dunedin.

Having by-passed the test against Japan in Tokyo, he was good against France on a night where the All Blacks struggled to get their attacking rhythm going. As backs coach Ian Foster said today, the All Blacks got it mostly right but couldn't deliver the knockout blow.

Foster said the fitness of both Savea, who has recovered from the flu which ruled him out of the Paris test, and Cory Jane, who played his first test of the year in that match, must be taken into account to determine who will join Dagg in the back three. It appears Charles Piutau has cemented one wing spot. Savea must be considered a good chance to play on the other.

The progress of centre Ben Smith, meanwhile, continues to satisfy Foster.

"He has his best game at centre,'' he said of Smith against France. "He continues to make real good strides about when to do simple things. I think people have described him as having a quiet game but I thought he had an efficient game. At centre it's a matter of making small adjustments to the attack, to square it up or whatever, and he is doing that. He put a good kick through for Charles' try so he read that situation well.

There's probably a couple of things that he's still working on, particularly his support lines after line breaks... but we're really pleased with him.''

- APNZ

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