Andrew Mulligan: Dagg rattles his passion

Returning All Black full of confidence again.
Israel Dagg got his chance to be back in black. Picture / Getty Images
Israel Dagg got his chance to be back in black. Picture / Getty Images

A lot of people didn't think Israel Dagg was ever going to be an All Black again.

Damian McKenzie was the most exciting player through the first seven games of Super Rugby, scoring a try in each match.

Since becoming an All Black Dagg has shown the confidence and almost bulletproof feeling of being in form. He was always relaxed and confident and that was what transpired in games.

We would see an impossible angle and he would run it and set up someone, throwing a pass like he did to Ma'a Nonu in the 2011 semifinal against the Wallabies.

But for whatever reason that version of Dagg slowly started to disappear. Instead it was a more serious almost introverted version of him come game night. Now it's back - not to the levels of his first two season perhaps - but it's back and so is Dagg in black.

But since Dagg returned to action a couple of months ago and scored two tries, the shackles of expectation and uncertainty of injuries had been released and the energy and confidence is back and so is the Air New Zealand safety video.

It finally isn't awkward for him watching it.

McKenzie will get his chance with the All Blacks, maybe in Dunedin off the bench. Without the dropping of Julian Savea it would have been interesting to see if Dagg would've been presented with this opportunity. But he will take it with both hands because he's earned the right to be starting.

Eddie Jones has been a fascinating watch across the Tasman - more than happy to share a laugh with the Fox Sports guys about the promo of them sitting around and joking about the memorable times they were involved in inflicting heavy and significant defeats on the English. That has brilliantly backfired and Jones' grin is even broader.

Head coach Michael Cheika and the Wallabies will have to respond despite an injury to star player David Pocock. The second test is going to be brilliant in Melbourne. Hopefully - for the Wallabies' sake - the AAMI turf will be able to hold up under the scrum pressure of England.

Looking towards the future, even though Jones has balked at the idea of being involved in the Lions tour here next year, imagine him alongside Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt. Would it work chemistry-wise? It would with a team likely laden with English, Irish and Welsh players. The ideal merger.

Mergers are en vogue right now and in sports it should be investigated. The following is hypothetical but ...

Merge NZ Netball with Basketball NZ. Our junior numbers are huge and there's no better time to exploit the potential and encourage females to start with basketball which can open up scholarship opportunities in the US and professional contracts around the globe. Let's see how Aussie netball copes with that.

Let's merge softball with baseball and create the same pathways and be competitive in the Olympics too. Softball has a strong and proud history in this country and I would spend time with Dad out at the diamond at the Hutt Rec when I was a kid. The Black Sox are one of our great teams but baseball just offers more globally.

The Blues and Warriors should look to come together. Who'd own a stake in who is debatable but the talent pool in Auckland alone is too large for there to be an issue with snaring talent. More technical aspects of rugby suggest flankers and backs would be the most useful to swap around and help with depth. Sonny Bill Williams could turn out to smash the Roosters and slow down their pack one week and then straighten the attack for the Blues both at the new waterfront stadium that Eric Watson and New Zealand Rugby help build with government money.

OK, some things are too hard to imagine.

- NZ Herald

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