Mouthguards missing again for several All Blacks

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 21:45 19/10/2013
Israel Dagg
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
WHAT'S MISSING? Israel Dagg - minus a mouthguard - during tonight's Bledisloe Cup test in Dunedin.

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The New Zealand Rugby Union continues to let All Blacks break their employment contracts by failing to ensure players wear mouthguards.

The Sunday Star-Times exposed the issue last week with senior NZRU administrator Neil Sorensen admitting the national governing body has failed to enforce the mandatory requirement.

Sorensen admitted the NZRU haven't been monitoring the issue, but despite him also saying "mouthguards are compulsory, not optional" and coach Steve Hansen supposedly pledging that the NZRU would be more vigilant, just six days later the NZRU has failed their first test at international level.

Repeat offenders Israel Dagg and Julian Savea were allowed to play test match rugby without wearing mouthguards in the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia in Dunedin tonight - again breaching the terms of their employment contracts.

Charles Piutau, on starting debut for the All Blacks, and Tawera Kerr-Barlow were also seen without mouthguards.

Dagg and Smith were among four players exposed by the Sunday Star-Times last week, though one of those, Ben Smith, has now taken action -  a green mouthguard clearly visible in the 41-33 win.

Meanwhile, captain Kieran Read said the performance which rounds out an unbeaten Bledisloe campaign was pleasing.

"We had to work hard, which is what you want in these games," Read said.

"We needed to show a bit more discipline, that's what was keeping Australia in the game in the first half. 

"When we got down their end we got points and that was the key to it.

"It's great that we could stick at it for 80 minutes, and a bit more."

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