All Blacks show faith in Dagg

2013-06-04 22:25
Israel Dagg (Getty Images)
Auckland – Although Ben Smith has been in sublime form for the Highlanders in Super Rugby this season, the All Black selectors have made it clear that Israel Dagg will be their fullback of choice for the upcoming Test series against France.

However, New Zealand Herald’s website reports that Smith’s selection to the All Blacks squad was in vain as he has been assured of a place on the wing for the first Test at Eden Park at the weekend.

The All Blacks were found themselves in a similar situation in 2009 when a then in-form Cory Jane shifted out to the wing from fullback.

Unlike Jane and Dagg, Smith has eluded the injury bug to play in every Highlanders Super Rugby match for the past four seasons.

"I think fullback fits in well with wing, I think those positions are pretty similar these days because you work as a back-three unit," Smith said.

Smith’s blistering pace will ensure he won’t feel out of place at wing, with the selectors quick to point out that they do not want him to be labelled as a utility player although they have the luxury of using him across a number of roles.

"He is good enough to play in three positions and for us it is probably a matter of where we have the best mix. Wing looks pretty likely this week," assistant coach Ian Foster admitted.

In other team news, Aaron Cruden may crack the nod at flyhalf after all, with the news that Dan Carter’s fractured hand is still swollen, with Piri Weepu ruled out through concussion after last week’s match for the Blues against the Highlanders.

Cruden, who already has 20 Test caps to his name, ran a few backline moves in training this week and Foster looks forward to the Chiefs man to continue his rich vein of form.

"He has a controlled part to his game and the running part and has carried that form on in the Super 15," Foster added.

New Zealand Herald’s likely All Black team to face France:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Rene Ranger, 23 Beauden Barrett.

Read more on:    all blacks  |  ben smith  |  israel dagg  |  rugby

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