Before the recent re-commitments to New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks by Ben Smith and now Israel Dagg, coach Steve Hansen would have been pondering the possibility of saying goodbye to his two best fullbacks.

Now, following Dagg's announcement this morning, which he filmed in what looks like the aftermath of the Crusaders' defeat to the Chiefs at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens tournament yesterday, Hansen has both players secured up to and including the 2019 World Cup.

For Hansen, the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place. He will lose first-five Aaron Cruden, who has decided to play in France following this year's campaign with the Chiefs, but the All Blacks are not short of No10s, with a group including Lima Sopoaga and Damien McKenzie, and headed by Beauden Barrett.

Crusader Richie Mo'unga could also push for an opportunity this year.

McKenzie, who has shown flashes of brilliance at No. 15 for the Chiefs, is a first-five as far as Hansen is concerned and the All Blacks coach is hoping Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, with Cruden in his final season at the franchise, gives the 21-year-old McKenzie ample opportunity there this season.

The recapture of Smith's signature would have mitigated against the potential loss of Dagg for Hansen, but the 28-year-old, who has played 61 tests since making his debut in 2010, is an important cog in the All Black machine for his attacking ability and booming right foot.

He also impressed on the wing for the All Blacks last year, in the wake of injuries to Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo. That flexibility has increased his importance and, potentially, his bargaining power.

Dagg has seen more than his fair share of injuries, including serious shoulder problems and leg issues.

As a result his form has suffered - a major disappointment was his non-selection for the last World Cup. Dagg has shown great resilience and Hansen will hope the Crusader's example is following by other New Zealand players facing similar challenges.


He would have been vulnerable to a lucrative contract and a shift to Europe, because of those injuries and form fluctuations. Smith, one of the best fullbacks in the world and a player Hansen has described as the most consistent, has an assured future in the black jersey.

Dagg's future isn't as certain, but he clearly believes he has plenty to offer yet and that, as much as anything, will please Hansen.