New Zealand Rugby have secured two of their three All Blacks priorities this season, with Israel Dagg re-signing until 2019.
Dagg, Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden were the three big Test names coming off contract this season but Cruden is the only one leaving the country, after signing with Montpellier for a reported $3.6 million over three years.
Smith’s decision to stay added intrigue to Dagg’s move, with the pair competing for the All Blacks 15 jersey, but the Crusader said it wouldn’t make a difference to his decision and he has been true to his word.
Dagg teased fans on Sunday night, posing a teaser on Instagram, showing him signing a contract, with the caption: “Tommorow morning i will be announcing my future for the next few years…#signed&sealed”
Dagg’s career turnaround in recent years has been remarkable, with a career-best 2016 after missing out on the 2015 World Cup squad and he used Instagram again on Monday to reveal his decision..
“There’s no doubt that there were some attractive offers to consider,” he said.
“At the end of the day I love my life here in New Zealand with my family, friends and team mates and I’m not ready to give that up,” he said.
“I still feel blessed every time I pull on the jersey for the All Blacks, Crusaders or (Hawke’s Bay) Magpies so I consider it an honour to be able to keep working hard to earn that right for the next three years.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said having Dagg in his 2019 plans made things simpler for the reigning champions.
“To have a player of Israel’s ability and versatility re-sign is a major lift for all levels of New Zealand Rugby.
“We appreciate the decision ‘Izzy’ and his wife Daisy have made and to be able to plan the future, knowing that we’ll have him involved makes life so much easier for us all, and we look forward to the challenges ahead.”
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said the retention of Dagg would be positive for the entire team.
“We have an idea about the sort of offers that players of Israel’s calibre are presented with from overseas, and it can never be easy for a player to turn that down,” he said.
“But Izzy is a player who, for all of his natural talent, has never taken his place in a team for granted. He has experienced disappointment, and that has only increased his appreciation and determination.
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“He is such a positive influence on this team, on and off the field, so we couldn’t be happier to have him sticking around.”
The Crusaders open their Super Rugby season against the Brumbies on February 25.