New Zealand v South Africa, Rugby Championship
Israel Dagg expects barrage of high balls
September 9, 2013
New Zealand's Israel Dagg vies for the high ball with James O'Connor, Australia v New Zealand, Rugby Championship, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, August 17, 2013
Israel Dagg expects the Springboks to test his aerial ability © Getty Images

Israel Dagg expects to field a barrage of high balls when the All Blacks take on South Africa in the top-of-the-table Rugby Championship Test at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

"They're going to put the ball up and put us under pressure. They feed off our mistakes, so we hope we can limit that and take those high balls."

The All Blacks and the Springboks have each won their opening three matches, but the South Africans lead the table because of an extra bonus point.

"I love playing South Africa," Dagg said. "This is where you want to test yourself - against the big boys. They have some of the best players in the world and I just can't wait. Bring on Saturday."

The All Blacks will be without Richie McCaw, who expects to be out for up to five weeks after suffering a knee injury against the Pumas.

Dagg said he knew the injury was serious when he saw the flanker leave the field in the 60th minute. "He never goes off for little niggles," he said. "It was a bit of a shock, but that's rugby and we've got to deal with it. We've got guys capable of stepping up, but it's a huge loss for us."

Sam Cane is set to take over the No.7 jersey, with Matt Todd called into the squad as back-up. Cane played all but eight minutes of the three Tests against France in June, while McCaw was on his six-month break from rugby, and Dagg said the experience would stand him in good stead.

South Africa impressed Israel Dagg with their performance against the Wallabies (video available only in Australia)

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