Crusaders want Dagg signed and sealed

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2012
Israel Dagg
ON FIRE: All Blacks' fullback Israel Dagg is yet to re-sign with the Crusaders.

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Dynamite fullback Israel Dagg reinforced at Eden Park that the sooner the Crusaders re-sign him the better.

Dagg, who was in scintillating form as the All Blacks overwhelmed the Wallabies 22-0 on Saturday night, has yet to officially ink a deal with the Crusaders for next year.

But he has advised coach Todd Blackadder he wants to return and the latter says the international will honour that handshake deal.

Like All Blacks team-mates Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock, Dagg must agree contract terms with the New Zealand Rugby Union first.

Blackadder said there was a degree of trust involved but he expected Dagg would be back.

“Israel is committed to the Crusaders but the contracting model is structured in that we can only take players up to a certain band [cap of money] ... they are trying to work it out with the NZRU first.

“Technically - have they signed? The answer is no," Blackadder said.

Read has publicly confirmed he also wants to return to the Crusaders once he has completed his deal with NZRU.

There has been speculation Dagg, who played for the Highlanders for two seasons before joining the Crusaders last year, is attracting interest from the Blues.

But such talk has been tempered in the knowledge the Auckland-based franchise has been approaching several players around the country.

All Blacks loose forward Adam Thomson is another to have been approached by the John Kirwan-coached outfit and Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has stated it is up to Thomson whether he wants to stay.

Blackadder confirmed that until a player signed a contract with his franchise, he must accept their word as their bond.

It is not legally binding, however.

Once they have signed Dagg, the next challenge for the Crusaders' coaches is to extract from him the sort of performances he has been producing for the All Blacks.

Dagg has little trouble showcasing his talents at test level but struggled with the Crusaders this season.

His mediocre form contributed to the backline's yo-yo performances which ultimately cost them any chance of winning the New Zealand conference and securing a precious home semifinal spot.

Blackadder also confirmed All Black playmaker Dan Carter has no plans to utilise the sabbatical clause in his NZRU contract and will return for the Crusaders next season.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks have already taken a handy lead in the race for the Rugby Championship title after the Springboks drew with Argentina 16-all yesterday morning.

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The All Blacks sit on eight points, followed by South Africa (six), Argentina (two) and the Wallabies (zero).

If the New Zealanders beat Argentina in Wellington on September 8 and the Springboks in Dunedin the following weekend, they will fly to Argentina with a near-unassailable lead.

- Canterbury

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