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    Dagg: This is as big as it gets

    2017-08-04 15:22

    Lloyd Burnard - Johannesburg

    Johannesburg - Israel Dagg is a World Cup winner and no stranger to big crowds, but even he acknowledges that Saturday's atmosphere at Ellis Park will be "daunting" for the Crusaders. 

    The 29-year-old won the 2011 World Cup with the All Blacks, but he has never won a Super Rugby title.

    He will have his chance on Saturday when, in front of 62 000 supporters at Ellis Park, the Crusaders look to win their first Super Rugby championship since 2008 by defeating the high-flying Lions.

    Dagg, who will start on the wing on Saturday, says it will be important for the Crusaders to stick together in an atmosphere that he says will be "as big as it gets".

    "We've just got to get on top of the Lions early and, if we can do that, hopefully we will quieten them (the crowd) down," Dagg said on Thursday.

    "They're going to be vocal, and they're going to be right behind their team. We've just got to stay connected as a 15 ... it's going to be pretty daunting out there. I've played here may times and it can be a very lonely place sometimes."

    Dagg added that a full Ellis Park was unlike anything else in rugby.

    "It doesn't get any bigger than this ... a final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. We've just got to treat it as another game. If we worry about the outcome, we'll get knocked over," he said.

    "I've played here many times when it's sold out and there is no better place to play ... it's where you want to be as a kid growing up."

    There will be ebbs and flows on Saturday, says Dagg, and he knows that the Crusaders will have to be at their best if they are to triumph against what he considers to be an "exciting" group of Lions players.

    "It's about controlling the momentum. There will be moments when the Lions are controlling things, and we've just got to stay together in those moments," said Dagg.

    "They play an attractive brand. They play with the ball and have exciting players. They look like they're a tight group and they have a lot of belief."

    The sides met at last year's quarter-final stage, also at Ellis Park, where the Lions emerged as 42-25 victors. 

    Dagg, however, insists that what happened then will have no impact on Saturday. 

    Follow Sport24 journalist @LloydBurnard on Twitter...

    Teams:

    Lions

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

    Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

    Crusaders

    15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge

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