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Dagg ready to be stretched by twin pivots

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly
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Israel Dagg assumes he'll clock up the kilometres in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions, and not necessarily through long-range All Blacks attacking raids.

Dagg moves from wing to a familiar fullback role following the omission of Ben Smith (concussion symptoms) and expects to work overtime there.

The inclusion of Johnny Sexton alongside Owen Farrell gives the Lions two world-class kicking options.

Coach Warren Gatland also pointed to the box-kicking of halfback Conor Murray and the lengthy left boots of centre Jonathan Davies and winger Elliot Daly as reasons to be content about their artillery in the battle for territory.

Whether it's covering kicks to the corner or contesting high ones, Dagg anticipates he'll be heavily involved.

"You've got two guys who can play either side of the ruck so, as a fullback, you're working hard back there because they can go either side," he said.

"They're both great kickers and they've got a lot of good vision.

"Their kicking game is pretty important to them so for us, we have to be strong in the air."

Dagg stood out with his all-round game in last week's 30-15 first Test win in Auckland, meaning the Lions may choose to send kicks in the direction of rookie Rieko Ioane or the recalled Waisake Naholo on the other wing.

Another concern for Dagg is when the boot is on the other foot, namely when they send deep kicks to Lions fullback Liam Williams.

The exciting Welshman breached the All Blacks' chase line several times in Auckland, including one audacious counter which set up an 85m try to flanker Sean O'Brien.

Dagg says the home side need to pay more heed to the slippery Welshman.

"I don't want to talk him up too much but he's a quality player, he created a lot of opportunities for them," he said.

"We can't give him those opportunities or he'll punish us again. He's done well but we'll look to contain him this week."

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton and New Zealand's Kieran Read lift the Series Trophy after the series is drawn during the third test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland In pics: Lions tour of New Zealand
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