“I was really close to signing for Leinster.  They gave my contract to James Lowe!'

“I was really close to signing for Leinster. They gave my contract to James Lowe!’

Updated 1 hour ago

WHILE THE DUST decides Ireland’s historic series success, few people are better placed to convey the New Zealand perspective than All Blacks legend Israel Dagg.

The world champion, who played 66 friendly matches, was joined by Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella in tonight’s episode The42 Rugby Weekly Extra Podcast for members of The42.

“Izzy” opened up about what went wrong at the All Blacks and how impressed he was with Ireland’s performances.

Dagg, who retired through injury in 2019, also spoke about almost becoming a team-mate to the likes of Johnny Sexton in 2016 when the All Blacks visited Dublin to play Ireland.

“Actually, I wanted to sign for Leinster,” said Dagg The42 Rugby Weekly Extra.

“I was pretty close. I was Yes, really just before signing for Leinster. What stopped me from signing was that it was so cold! It was freezing. I’m from Christchurch where it’s very cold but this place is on another level.

“I went to Leinster HQ with Isa Nacewa and looked around the whole complex. I loved it. I had to try to convince the woman, she was obviously a big part of it. She said no.

“I turned down the deal, went back to New Zealand and they actually gave my contract to James Lowe!

“So it was the better decision in the end, wasn’t it? Things happen for a reason.

“I turned it down, James Lowe go over there, he’s going to be an absolute superstar and look what he’s doing for Ireland now. If I’m looking for a positive result, you’ve signed a real winger for Ireland and he’s doing great. I am proud of him.”

Dagg visited Leinster in November 2016 when the All Blacks came to Dublin to play Ireland.

Credit: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Dagg said he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he had signed the deal with Leinster.

“I do that, I do that because I’ve never really had the opportunity to experience anything outside of New Zealand. I went to Japan for two months towards the end of my career, but my knee was very bad, I couldn’t really play, I just wasn’t happy. My body collapsed.

“So I never understood what rugby means to other nations and what it means to different players. And how good would it have been to play with world class players over in Ireland or in England or whatever?

“But if I say so, I’ve had a pretty special career. I started playing for Hawke’s Bay while I was still at school, played the sheet music and lived through what I consider to be a golden era in New Zealand rugby.

“I have to play with it tea All-time greats, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith… the backline was crazy. So I’m pinching myself, but I would have liked to have gone and experienced a different culture.”

Dagg gave a very honest assessment of where New Zealand rugby is at following the All Blacks series loss to Ireland.

He provided insight into the pressured head coach Ian Foster, while Dagg also said he thinks All Blacks captain Sam Cane could benefit from being relieved of that managerial responsibility for the time being.

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“It doesn’t look good when the captain leaves with 15 minutes to go and the test is in limbo,” said Dagg.

“For me, Sam Cane is a first class player. I feel like the captain is dampening him down and putting too much weight on his shoulders. If I’m honest, I’d probably give the captaincy to someone like Sam Whitelock.

Sam Cane

Sam Cane’s role as captain of the All Blacks has been questioned.

Credit: Photosport/Grant Down/INPHO

“If you relieve Sam Cane of that responsibility and just give him a chance to go and play, I think it would free him. He’s not a bad player but for now he’ll be sitting at home kicking himself in the gut. I felt it. He will blame himself and put all the weight of New Zealand on his shoulders.

“He will read every single article, his wife will read them. Take that away from him and give him time to find his confidence and belief in his abilities. That would help him. He won’t want to give up, but I think that would be the best option.”

Elsewhere in today’s pod, Gavan, Berch and Murray broke down Ireland’s third Test victory and discussed where this historic performance leaves them ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.

To get access The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella and every Wednesday with Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

First release today at 1:36 p.m

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