New Zealand
Israel Dagg wants to be back in black
ESPN Staff
September 3, 2015
Israel Dagg: New Zealand's loss in Hawke's Bay's gain © Getty Images
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Israel Dagg is determined to reclaim the All Blacks' full-back jersey beyond the Rugby World Cup, but he accepts he has a battle on his hands after he was among the more notable omissions from the 31-man squad named for the 2015 tournament having been a regular fixture since bursting into prominence during the 2011 title-winning campaign.

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He and another star of the 2011 Cup-winning team, winger Cory Jane, have been surpassed this year by Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder, but still it was still a gutting experience when coach Steve Hansen delivered the bad news on Sunday.

"You always think that you're going to be there," Dagg said. "It's disappointing but I've had 49 Tests, I'm 27 years old so hopefully I can get back into that jersey. It's going to take a lot of hard work. There's so much competition in New Zealand rugby."

Dagg was in Wellington on Thursday, among the 12 players from the wider All Blacks squad who missed the World Cup cut. Hansen wanted to explain the reason for their omissions first-hand, and Dagg said it was worthwhile. "I won't go into detail but we had a good yarn and he's still a friend and he's still our coach. It was good to have a chat with all the selectors."

Dagg, who is contracted to New Zealand Rugby for two more seasons, is motivated to perform for Hawke's Bay in the ITM Cup - starting with a Ranfurly Shield defence against North Harbour on Saturday.He will be on standby in case injury strikes the All Blacks at the World Cup but otherwise will prepare for a big Super Rugby pre-season with the Crusaders.

His longer-term goal is to play against the touring British & Irish Lions in 2017.

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