Bledisloe 'life and death': Dagg

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Think the Bledisloe is more than just a game? You’re not alone.

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg says his side still feels like everything is at stake when they take on Australia, despite holding the trophy for 13 consecutive years.

“It is life and death,” he said.

“There's a lot of expectations, New Zealand-Australia, Bledisloe Cup, it doesn’t get any bigger.

Dagg hasn't played the Wallabies since 2014. Photo: Getty Images

“There's a special trophy that Australia are dying for and we are dying to keep, so it's going to be tough out there.“

“Guys are going to be throwing their bodies around and there's going to be times when we're under pressure but that's why we play the game because you want to be at the top.”

Dagg said once the physical contest was done, the fun would start to come.

“You want to be playing the best players out there and doing it with your mates.

“When it gets to the 80th minute and you've played well and you've defended your hearts out, that's where you get enjoyment out of, just really going to battle with your mates.”

Dagg is rediscovering his love for rugby this season, finally shaking off some injury worries to work his way back into the All Blacks squad and forcing a backline reshuffle in June’s final two Tests against Wales.

Dagg has found his love for rugby once again after a couple of injury-riddled seasons. Photo: Getty Images

“In June I was very lucky to get an opportunity in the second Test and the third Test but for me it's been about all year is just about having fun and getting out there and expressing yourself,” he said.

“This year I'm just really enjoying it, playing footy, representing my country and this is where every kid wants to be.

“It's all about getting the preparation during the week, nailing what I have to do out there for the team and perform and then just nailing my core roles during the week and during the game.

“If I can do that, the flashy stuff just comes, I just need to nail the basics.”

The fullback knows New Zealand aren’t the only team with plenty on the line on Saturday night, wary of a wounded Wallabies side coming off a 3-0 series loss.

“We know they're going to be hurting and they've had a few weeks preparing for this so we fully know what to expect from them, they're going to come out firing.

“They're going to bring things that we haven't seen before but that's the way it goes.”