In playing every minute of all the three tests against the British & Irish Lions, plus 80 minutes for the Crusaders against the tourists, Israel Dagg has had the highest workload of any All Black recently.

The 29-year-old admits because of that he returned to Christchurch a little weary after the third test at Eden Park, a torrid affair which finished in a 15-all draw, but the prospect of winning his first Super Rugby title is enough to motivate him on even the coldest and wettest Christchurch mid-winter day.

It's a mindset which extends to all of his teammates, a tough mental approach key to their quarter-final victory over the Highlanders last weekend and which will need to have a chance of winning their semifinal against the Chiefs at AMI Stadium tomorrow.

"The body and mind were a little bit tired but at the end of the day if you want to win this competition you've got to come back and front up," Dagg told the Herald. "That's what I had to do, there's no point moaning about it. I was a little bit worse for wear but that's all right.


"Just front up mentally," Dagg said of the main message before last weekend's win in the wind and rain. "It's easy to say it's wet and cold and we don't want to be here, but if you're mentally not there you play like it. The boys fronted up, especially the forwards, they got into their work and then got the treats at the end."

With David Havili excelling at fullback for the Crusaders, Dagg has once again been named on the right wing against the Chiefs.

His presence there adds security for Scott Robertson's men both for the fact he is so good under the high ball and that he possesses perhaps the most powerful right boot of any wing in the game, a weapon which relieved the pressure in appalling weather conditions last weekend.

Dagg said he is happy to play anywhere along the back three, but there is little doubt that fullback remains his favourite position and he will be hoping to claim the All Black No15 jersey when friend and incumbent Ben Smith takes his sabbatical after the first two Bledisloe Cup tests next month.

In the meantime Dagg has been plotting to take the Crusaders to the next level in Scott Robertson's first year in charge. A title in robertson's first year would be a remarkable achievement, but credit too has to go to his assistants Leon MacDonald, a former All Blacks fullback, with help from Joe Maddock a former Crusaders outside back.

Dagg said the pair were the main drivers of the Crusaders' defence, an impressively watertight system which uses more line speed than it has previously.

Being able to shut out the Highlanders 17-0 was a testament to the Crusaders tackling efficiency and they will need that and more against a chiefs team including such attacking talents as Damian McKenzie and James Lowe.

"We take a lot of pride in our defence. It's what wins games in the end. We've just got to keep working hard for each other and if we can do that we've got a chance against the Chiefs because they've got some skilful players.


"We can't give him [McKenzie] space or time with the ball otherwise he'll rip you to shreds. We know what he can do, we're well aware of that."

It all means the Crusaders will have to get their kicking game right in what are expected to be sub-zero conditions (the forecast is for -4deg).

"I'm enjoying it," Dagg said of his season. "It's great to have a home playoff match in front of our fans. I have to be honest, I want to win this thing, so I'm going to give it everything."