Crusaders won't rule out repeat Dagg wing run
March 4, 2013
The Crusaders were off the pace in Auckland
Israel Dagg may play on the left wing again in the week-four Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday night.
Dagg, rated the best fullback in the world, was largely ineffective as an attacking force on the left wing against the Blues, despite having a try harshly ruled out by the TMO, and three of the hosts' five tries in their 34-15 win were scored down his flank.
The Crusaders looked far more threatening on attack in the final quarter, when Dagg returned to fullback and Tom Taylor, who had a shaky night under the high ball, moved into the midfield.
Crusaders attack coach Tabai Matson accepted at training on Monday that his backline had shown shortcomings against the Blues, but he defended Dagg. "One of the things we talk about often is people playing in positions that don't often suit them for the greater good of the team," Matson said. "Izzy [Dagg] did a great job on the night, and can definitely do the job again for us there."
Israel Dagg's position against the Hurricanes may depend on the availability of versatile outside backs Johnny McNicholl and Kurt Baker, who missed the Blues game due to injury. McNicholl has a back problem, but he trained last week and will be monitored closely this week; Baker is also back training fully after his hamstring problem.
Frank Halai dominated Israel Dagg at Eden Park © Getty Images
All Blacks lock Luke Romano will not face the Hurricanes, however, after he injured a rib cartilage injury in the opening quarter against the Blues.
"He's been X-rayed and it is not as serious as we first thought, but he's definitely out this week," Matson said. "How long, we're not sure; but he's recovering quickly."
Matson and Aaron Mauger have been entrusted with preparing the Crusaders' offensive plan, but few innovations were seen in their opening loss to the Blues. Matson said they would not shy away from a new brand of attack, but he accepted that the Crusaders had to adapt and learn to play all styles.
"Every game is different in its own right and we're looking to do different things," he said. "The Blues' defence was outstanding, and we were a little ineffective mainly at the breakdown. It doesn't matter what you're trying to play if you're not effective there.
"When the Blues are in that mood they're tough so a lot of credit has to go to their ability on the night.
"We treat this Friday as another game against another team, and our focus is to play our 'A' game which we didn't do last week."