Nervous Dagg thrives in All Blacks debut

10:46, Jun 12 2010
Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip
Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip takes the long lone walk to the sideline after being red-carded for kneeing in the 16th minute against the All Blacks.
Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip
Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip is show a red card by referee Wayne Barnes for kneeing All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in the head at a ruck.
All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg
All Blacks debutant fullback Israel Dagg sprints away from the Irish cover defence after making a break in the team's first test of the year.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw
On the charge, All Blacks captain and No 7 Richie McCaw runs at the Ireland defence.
All Blacks prop Ben Franks
Earning bragging rights over his fellow All Blacks prop brother Owen, Ben Franks becomes the first brother to score for New Zealand.
All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan
With two Ireland players on his back, All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan heads toward the goal-line for his second try of the night.
All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock
A happy Sam Whitelock celebrates his second try on debut.
All Blacks haka
The All Blacks perform the haka before their test match against Ireland.
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll
Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll off-loads in the tackle of his captain counterpart Richie McCaw.

Exciting debutant Israel Dagg said his nerves disappeared with his first touch of the ball as he played a major role in the All Blacks commanding win over Ireland in New Plymouth on Saturday night.

The All Blacks opened the Steinlager Series with a 66-28 win.

On a night when six players made their test debuts, Dagg had a particularly strong first-up effort at fullback.

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg
RUNNING AWAY: All Blacks debutant fullback Israel Dagg sprints away from the Irish cover defence after making a break in the team's first test of the year.

Full of life during the week, Dagg admitted the nerves hit him on game day and he became very quiet.

But he said he was able to get into the game early and never looked back.

"Yeah, come game day I'm pretty quiet," Dagg said.


"But I got my first touch and I got a wee break and my confidence got up. I just had to do my job and things clicked.

"It was great fun out there, great to have my family there, and a great experience."

Dagg struck a good combination with his wings, particularly with Cory Jane. Their counterattack work was superb at times with Dagg beating first defenders with ease and then connecting with his support.

"I worked hard with Cory and Rocks (Joe Rokocoko) to keep the communication up. It paid off in the first half."

Dagg said the All Blacks had worked hard on getting a good start after problems in that area in recent season.

Two quick tries set up what looked like being a landslide victory. Only a sloppy period in the second half when the bench was emptied, blotted a pleasing opening effort from the All Blacks.

Dagg believed that could be remedied.

"We went away from our structures and our game plan. If we stick to the basics our second half will improve.

With Mils Muliaina likely to be available next week it will be interesting to see what the selectors do at fullback.

They certainly have an exciting alternative in the 15 jersey based on Dagg's opening effort.

Assistant coach Wayne Smith was full of praise for Dagg, saying his composure was particularly impressive.

"Some people are built for this level and he looks like he is," Smith said.

"We wanted to counter attack and he made some god decisions there. He is dangerous."

Sm"He was very good. He had the composure that we thought he would, he got us over the gain line and defended well. He would be really, really happy.

"It's a step up and the intensity is very high. Speaking to Benson afterwards he said it just didn't stop.

"I think the run out will be good for all the new boys really."

Head coach Graham Henry said it was ideal to be able to get all the new players involved. While there was a risk of the game losing shape, as it did, it was a risk worth taking.