Seriously good but rarely serious, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane are two peas in a pod.
The All Blacks fullback and wing provided the tries during Saturday's 27-19 win against the Wallabies and the levity at the interviews after the match.
It was nice to see Dagg back to his free-running best in counter-attack after a flat Super Rugby season by his standards, and backs coach Ian Foster has clearly given his fullback licence to express himself.
"I just had to back myself. It's something I haven't been doing much [lately]," Dagg said after the match.
"It's something I just had to do and luckily it came off.
"I'm not too sure [why] I have not, it's just one of those things really. I just wanted to go out there and back myself and luckily it came off.
"Cory's been with the Hurricanes and they are probably the team that's countered the most this year, so I've been learning from guys like that. We've been working hard and hopefully next week we can finish those opportunities."
Dagg, who now has nine tries from 15 tests, and Jane provided a reminder of their ability to beat a man when both skipped on the outside of Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale for their tries.
Both made mention of Foster, who they said had come up with the set moves that led to their tries and added "ideas and enthusiasm" to training.
Certainly, both tries were a joy to watch as Australia's defence was sucked up by clever decoy runners who created space on the outside.
However, there were also missed opportunities and the All Blacks did not cope particularly well at times when the Wallabies defence rushed up from the outside in.
"We had a few opportunities there that we let go," Dagg said, as Jane did his best to distract him during a television interview.
"Cory Jane was in the corner again and dropped it cold. He was looking in lala land there and then I threw a netball pass to Hosea [Gear]. I think I need to do some work with the Magic girls there."
Jane was disappointed to shell a pass from Sonny Bill Williams, but pleased to be back after missing the June series against Ireland because of an ankle injury.
"I can see why he fools a lot of people with the offloads because he absolutely fooled me. I thought he was going to go through and pop it and he fired it at me, a bit too hard, but no excuses, it was a bit embarrassing."
The All Blacks' vaunted midfield of Williams and Ma'a Nonu was solid, but did not quite fire on all cylinders as the Wallabies backs did a good job cutting down their space.
"I'd give them a pass mark," Foster said of the midfield.
"They certainly challenged a lot . . . but we didn't get the flow of lineout ball we wanted to test it."
However, Nonu earned high praise for his defensive work at centre where he gobbled up anything the Wallabies threw his way.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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