Steve Hansen expects 'positive' Dagg decision soon

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg in action against Ireland. Photo/Brett Phibbs
All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg in action against Ireland. Photo/Brett Phibbs

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is 'confident" that back-line utility Israel Dagg will reject lucrative offers from Europe and re-sign with New Zealand Rugby soon.

This week, NZR retained the services of veteran utility Ben Smith, having earlier lost first-five Aaron Cruden to French club Montpellier at the end of this year.

The off-contract trio has been heavily courted over the summer, but while disappointed to lose Cruden, Hansen believes two out of three ain't bad.

"We wanted to keep all three, but my gut feeling was we'd probably lose Crudes," Hansen told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.

"We've got the positive news from [Ben] and we're hoping to hear something positive from Izzy shortly, rather than negative news.

"If we can keep them both, it would be a fantastic effort and you have to say the rugby union have done a great job."

Asked to put a number on the chances of retaining Dagg, Hansen replied: "More than 50-50 that he'll stay, maybe 80-20.

"I'm always confident. We're trying to do our best and if you're confident, that confidence comes through."

Hansen admitted lobbying Smith to persuade him to stay in the All Black programme for another four years.

"For me, the worst thing an All Black can do is leave when he still has more to do in the jersey," he said.

"When I chatted to Ben, I just explained that I felt ... that he still had things to do, but it was up to him to decide or not.

"It doesn't matter who it is, you have to allow the player to make the decision based on what he believes is right for him.

"Eve the young guys who sometimes go earlier make their decisions based on what's right for them and whilst that's disappointing, you can't knock it."

The All Black head honcho also refused to rule Cruden out of this year's British and Irish Lions series, although he also hoped to see more of young Damian McKenzie at first-five for the Chiefs during the Super Rugby competition.

"Will it affect Crudes for the lions that he's going away?" mused Hanse. "No.

"What will affect him is does he play well enough. If he plays well enough, he's going to get selected.

"If he's in contention with someone's that's staying and they're playing the same, then you have to make a judgment about the future.

"He's well aware of that. We've talked that through and every time we've had someone going overseas, that's been the position."

- NZ Herald

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