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Injured Dagg nearing return for Crusaders

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017

Israel Dagg © Getty Images//Matt King Israel Dagg All Black Israel Dagg is nearing a return for the Crusaders after taking longer than expected to recover from knee surgery.

World class outside back Dagg won't face the Hurricanes in Saturday's table-topping Super Rugby match in Christchurch.

It will be the eighth game he has missed since hobbling off early in the round three defeat of the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on March 11.

The initial diagnosis of a six-week recovery period has proved inaccurate but Crusaders assistant coach Leon MacDonald says the 61-Test veteran is on the verge of a return.

That could happen in club rugby as early as this weekend.

"He won't be chucked right in at the deep end. He needs to make sure he feels comfortable and strong," MacDonald told reporters.

"We are hoping to give him some game time. Whether it is a club game, or live training I am not sure."

Dagg will have a maximum of three Super Rugby games and the tour match against the British and Irish Lions to prove his fitness for the All Blacks team to face Samoa in Auckland on June 16.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen will keep close tabs on the 28-year-old, who missed selection for the 2015 World Cup but bounced back with a brilliant international campaign last year, mostly as a winger.

The Crusaders have thrived despite Dagg's absence this season, with fullback David Havili and rookie winger George Bridge scoring 14 tries between them for the unbeaten Super Rugby leaders.

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