Dagg keen to make most of 50th Test

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     17 Jun 2016     Getty Images

His place comes at the expense of wing Julian Savea, ironically Dagg's room-mate for the week, with Ben Smith moving to right wing and Waisake Naholo to the left.


Dagg said he had been out of the All Blacks' environment for eight or nine months and felt like a new kid having been given the opportunity to play.

He said there were times last year when he felt his time in the side was up.

"I had to sit down and take a deep breath and reassess things. I had a lot of time away from the game and when I got back to playing some footy I just wanted to get out there, have some fun and whatever happens happens.

"It's awesome to be back in this environment and given another opportunity but I've got to go out there and take it," he said.

At the same time he acknowledged that Savea would be hurting from his non-selection deep down, but he was sure he would come back stronger when he got the chance.

"There's a rule in this team, you can sulk for a minute then you've got to get over it and move on and do what's best for this team," he said.

Having been in the same position Dagg said it was about doing what was best for the team and help them prepare and Savea had been doing that.

"It makes you hungrier and makes you stronger and I'm pretty sure he's going to come back and bowl some people over and do what he does because he's pretty destructive," he said.
First five-eighths Aaron Cruden said Dagg would add experience to the backline and that was demonstrated in the milestone he was achieving.

"He's come back after his injury and disappointment last year and really hit the ground running for the Crusaders so I know he's going to do exactly the same for us this Saturday night. He's just going to enjoy the occasion, not try to force things and really add a lot of experience and x-factor out the back for us," he said.

The All Blacks were under no illusions about the challenge the Welsh would bring to the Test after last week's loss and that to the Chiefs earlier in the week.

Cruden wasn't surprised at the passion and heart the Chiefs showed in their 40-7 win over Wales in Hamilton but the way in which they grew during the game had been significant. The Chiefs had shown how defence can be so crucial in winning games by defending well in crucial moments and then being able to launch when their own chances came.

"It's going to be totally different this weekend. We know the Welsh are hurting and they are going to throw the kitchen sink at us so we need to be prepared for that barrage early," he said.

While goal-kicking was more of a mental challenge in the swirling conditions at Westpac Stadium Cruden said it was the same for both teams.

"Being able to adjust to the wind when you have to but adjusting your mental state of mind is pretty crucial down here," he said.

Dagg said he was prepared for plenty of high balls from the Welsh. They had launched several last weekend and had some good outcomes from them but their running game was also capable of putting the All Blacks under pressure. That came down to putting more energy into turning from attack into defence.

"I'm expecting a few high balls and a kicking game from them," he said.

It was the first time he had played with wing Waisake Naholo in the back three and he was looking forward to playing alongside him.

"We've been building all week just getting our connections and combinations," he said.