Israel Dagg is looking to enjoy his rugby more in 2016.
Dagg altered his contract with the NZRU, a decision that could see the 27-year old represent the All Blacks once again, but only if he can stay injury free after returning to rugby in April.
Talking on radio this weekend, Dagg revealed that he terminated his out clause to remain playing rugby in New Zealand. Dagg says he will remain with the NZRU until at least the end of 2017.
Dagg recently met with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen after looking at overseas clubs.
Following the meeting, Dagg removed the clause from his contract and has signed on for at least another year.
Many thought that Dagg’s time playing international rugby was done after he missed the 2015 Rugby World Cup. His exclusion from the squad was deserved after a poor two seasons prior, but much of this was due to constant injury.
Dagg will be sidelined again to start 2016 however, which will make his All Black ambitions all the more difficult.
Dagg will effectively have two months to impress the All Black selectors and it will come at a time when the Super Rugby title race is starting to heat up.
With the departure of so many senior players during the offseason, Dagg will be more of a leader than ever when he returns to Super Rugby in April.
A fully fit, injury free Israel Dagg is crucial to the Crusaders offensive game.
Expect to see Dagg lead the backline and have a lot of one-on-one time with new first five recruits Marty McKenzie and Ben Volavola, albeit in an advisory role for the first half of the season.
If Dagg is to go out and find the fun factor he desires, he must put everything but his own individual game to the side.
Playing freely, and perhaps selfishly at times, may be Dagg’s only ticket back into the All Blacks.
Next to Dagg in terms of experience in the Crusaders backline is Ryan Crotty who is nursing an injury, but at the time of writing, has been pencilled in to play the Chiefs on February 27th in the opening round of competition.
In fact, the Crusaders have a lot of injury woes heading into the start of Super Rugby.
Kieran Read will miss the opening three rounds and has been replaced as captain by All Black veteran Sam Whitelock.
Super Rugby begins in late February.