Such have been the terrible injuries and misfortune suffered by Israel Dagg this year – a knee which is grinding bone on bone due to the lack of cartilage, and a concussion following a horrible mid-air challenge in Brisbane – it is a wonder he is still in the mix for the Crusaders at all.
The outside back has played only three matches for Scott Robertson's men this season – a total of about 150 minutes, during which time he simply hasn't impressed the Crusaders head coach enough to make the match-day 23 against the Highlanders in Christchurch tomorrow night.
Is this the end of the road, finally, for a player who was a star for the All Blacks during the 2011 World Cup but who didn't make the last edition and who is contracted with New Zealand Rugby until the end of the next one next year? With Dagg it is difficult to tell because his resilience is often underrated and he always has the capacity to surprise.
What is more clear-cut is that, with only one round-robin game remaining after this weekend, he could struggle for game time for the Crusaders, the defending champions, even despite the fact they are hot favourites to make the Super Rugby final on August 4 (if they do it will almost certainly be held in Christchurch).
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And for that reason he is an unlikely candidate for selection for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad which will be named two days afterwards. He just hasn't had enough opportunities to force the selectors' hands and with incumbents including Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane and Nehe Milner-Skudder (who was one of the few who didn't play for the All Blacks against France last month but who is playing for the Hurricanes), Dagg again has a hard road ahead.
The 29-year-old has played 66 tests (and only three off the reserves bench). His greatest strengths are his booming right boot, game management, bravery under the high ball and ability to find a weakness in a defensive line.
Unfortunately for him, perhaps, that is probably best done for the Crusaders in a starting position, and with in-form wings Seta Tamanivalu and George Bridge and fullback David Havili named ahead of him, it is difficult to see where he fits in next week against the Blues at home should that trio remain fit.
On the reserves bench is speedster Manasa Mataele, who has scored eight tries in 12 games this season, a man who can take advantage of a tiring defence like few others.
Dagg's big-game experience could see him in the Crusaders' selection mix once they reach the knockout phase, but that, by itself, might not be enough and Robertson has shown he is happy to make tough calls by leaving out not only Dagg from the Highlanders game but also fellow All Blacks Luke Romano and Tim Perry; the former a lock who was in good form before the June test break and was a late inclusion to the All Blacks squad, the latter returning from injury who would have made the All Blacks if he had been fit.
Dagg's last test was against Argentina on September 9 last year. He has probably run out of time for the next All Blacks squad but is rated highly by Steve Hansen and will remain on the All Blacks radar for the November tour should he string together enough games for Hawke's Bay in the Mitre 10 Cup and does what Dagg does best; play with freedom, confidence and authority.
After the issues he's had over his career a re-selection for the national side would richly deserved, and looking further ahead, an appearance in next year's World Cup after he missed the last one would allow him to leave on his terms.