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

All Blacks: Israel Dagg runs all over Wales

One statistic from last night's test by itself should make Israel Dagg particularly proud and Wales much less so of their own performance.

The fullback ran with the ball for 196m, a figure boosted by a near length-of-the-field try at the death. Wales ran for a total of only 193m.

Dagg may have contributed to Julian Savea's early error in dropping the ball as he loitered a bit too closely to the No 11, but he didn't do much else wrong and, with his confidence sky-high after a good season with the Crusaders, coach Steven Hansen suggested he could be difficult to leave out of the squad to play Australia in the Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney on August 20.

At the very least, Hansen has a lot of options for that back three. Last night Savea, Dagg and Ben Smith made up that trio. If they, plus Waisake Naholo, stay injury-free, Hansen could have some difficult decisions to make.

"He gives us a massive option, Benny [Smith] gives us a massive option, with Wise [Naholo] on one wing and Jules on the other, so we'll need to make some choices when they're all playing well," Hansen said. "His form at the moment is going to make it very difficult to leave him out. Bender's [Smith] form - he had an outstanding game as well on the wing. It doesn't matter where you play him, he's such a good rugby player, so both of them will be there somewhere.

"He [Dagg] got injured last year and couldn't show that talent but he's had a great off-season and has come back in great form. He's the player we know he can be and, when he's like that, he can be world-class."

Dagg was creative and sound under the high ball; a constant threat to a Welsh team pushed over the limit.

"The pace from their back three caused us some problems," Wales coach Warren Gatland said. "Their counter-attacking was absolutely superb, so that will be a big work-on for us."

Dagg admitted recently he had refound his love of the game, which has played a big part in his form.

"I just really enjoyed it. It's always good playing under the roof with all the opportunities [that provides]."

Asked whether he felt he was reaching the form of his efforts during the 2011 World Cup, Dagg said: "That's a long time ago. I'm just really enjoying my footy and staying calm in my head and doing what's best for my team. If the ball goes into the air, I have to take it; just nailing my role, really.

"Obviously Bender is a great fullback as well. There's a lot of competition in the team but we get on really well and do what's best for the team. We've got Waisake, we've got Bender and Beaudy who goes to fullback ... and scores all the tries.

"Bender is an outstanding athlete. He's extremely gifted, quick, good in the air and he's got great vision."

- NZ Herald

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