Dagg relishing Soweto ‘homecoming’

Fri, 05 Oct 2012 12:16
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It's pretty tough at altitude

All Black fullback Israel Dagg will on Saturday return to the scene where he announced himself on the global stage two years ago.

Dagg broke Springbok hearts and silenced 94,033 South African supporters when he received a Ma’a Nonu pass and ran in the decisive try after replacing Joe Rokocoko on the wing in the great rivals’ previous encounter at Soccer City in 2010.

Two years on, Dagg has evolved from promising replacement to first-choice All Black fullback and arguably the world’s leading No.15.

Reflecting on his heroics in Soweto, Dagg revealed that a host of senior All Blacks advised him to make sure he grounds the ball first before he starts to celebrate.

“It was a bit close,” Dagg said of his late match winner.

“I was celebrating and yahooing, I didn't even know I was doing it.”

Dagg admitted that he battled playing on the Highveld and still struggles to a degree.

“I was real tired and I only played 20 minutes,” Dagg said.

“It's pretty tough at altitude. The first 15 minutes your lungs are burning and you've got that bloody sensation in your throat.”

Dagg was one of the stars in the All Black squad that won the World Cup on home soil last year but said his rise to prominence came with more scrutiny from the opposition. 

“Now people have played me a few times and figured me out, so it's a lot tougher these days,” he said.

Relishing his return to Soweto, Dagg feels he will learn more about himself once again.

“They're a team that test you and put you under a lot of pressure,” he said.

"I know I'm going to get a lot of high balls. That's where you can find out a lot about yourself.”