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Dagg backs Hansen to succeed
Tom Hamilton
December 16, 2011
Israel Dagg has had to get used to the public eye following his World Cup success © Adidas
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New Zealand fullback Israel Dagg has backed new All Blacks head honcho Steve Hansen to continue the legacy left by Rugby World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry.

Hansen was confirmed by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) as the man to take the reins from Henry on Friday and Dagg, one of the stars of their 2011 campaign, believes Hansen is the perfect choice.

"Steve [Hansen] is definitely the right man to take us forward," Dagg told ESPNscrum. "He's been part of the setup for a while now and knows what it takes to win the sport's biggest prize. I'm pretty sure he won't change too much within the setup and he will do well. Sure - he'll bring in new ideas and new players - but the culture of winning with the All Blacks will stay the same."

The 23-year-old only had seven caps for the national side going into the World Cup but ended up playing an instrumental part in their journey to glory, scoring five tries in the process. Veteran Mils Muliaina seemed to have the berth sewn up in the run up to the global showpiece, but Henry opted to start Dagg in the early stages of the tournament.

Muliaina was eventually sidelined through injury, leaving Dagg to take the Test centurion's place, and the Crusaders fullback admits he is slightly overawed by the increase in expectation.

"Obviously everything has gone up another level in terms of exposure and expectation following what happened back in October and it is quite tough but it is part of the job and you just have to get used to it," Dagg said.

"I didn't really expect to get the shot at fullback ahead of Mils. I got a few games under my belt pre-tournament and had to play well on those occasions and after getting that time and the chance to impress the coaches, they gave me a chance in the World Cup. It was sad when Mils got injured - the man's a legend - and had he stayed fit, I doubt I'd have played in the final. But luck came my way and it all went well."

Dagg now faces the task of returning to club duty with the Crusaders. Following a season where the Christchurch-based franchise were forced to play all their matches away from their AMI Stadium home due to the February earthquake, he is relishing the chance to play in front of their passionate supporters once again. He does concede, however, that after experiencing the joys of winning the World Cup, it will be a shock to the system to return to the 'day job'.

"Having just won the sport's biggest prize, I was worried I might find it hard to get motivated for another season in Super Rugby and to go back to the Crusaders but it is my job," Dagg said. "I have spoken to the other chaps about going back to the Crusaders - Richie [McCaw] included - and he said I should take my time and not rush straight back into it.

"I need to get my body back in shape after all the relaxing I've done but the hunger is still there and the goal this year is to go one further with the Crusaders. I am looking forward to another huge campaign for the side and it's awesome to be back home playing in Christchurch."

Israel Dagg was speaking at a signing session for fans in Harrods' new team-sports area, arranged by All Blacks kit supplier adidas

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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