Israel Dagg out of final Test against England

Dagg has been struggling with a patella tendon injury that is also affecting his thigh and missed Saturday night’s thrilling 28-27 win in Dunedin.

“We need to give his knee the opportunity to come right and then we’ll get his thigh right and then he’ll be able to start kicking and jumping again,” Hansen explained.

“The plan is just to quietly work away with him because my understanding with patella tendons is that it’s an over-use thing.

“You’ve got to keep them moving so he’ll keep exercising. But the issue he’s got is that his left knee is causing him to change his kicking style which is then causing his quad to become sore and he’s already pulled that quad once before.”

Ben Smith’s outstanding performance in his first start at fullback means Hansen has no need to rush Dagg’s recovery.

“It was a pretty special performance last night,” Hansen said of Smith, whose hauling down of Manu Tuilagi to stop a certain try was a highlight in the end-to-end match.

“It’s tough on Izzy because he’s been playing really well too. It’s the old adage, someone gets a break and he’s taken it with both hands. It was pretty special.”

The team for the Hamilton Test is likely to be bolstered by the return of Kieran Read at the back of the scrum.

The 2013 IRB player of the year has played just 80 minutes of rugby in two months after suffering concussion while playing for the Crusaders against the Chiefs in April.

While his symptoms have cleared, Hansen opted to give Read more time to get his fitness levels up before throwing his No.8 in against the physical English pack.

“He’s had a little bit of contact and he’s come through that,” Hansen said. “Obviously there is a bit of anxiety floating about because he’s been concussed.

“The more he gets into the training the more he’ll get comfortable then we’ll make a decision once we need to.”

Hansen also confirmed that openside flanker Matt Todd would be released for the Crusaders’ game against England in Christchurch on Tuesday night, but that the other Crusaders players who have had no game-time in the first two Tests – Dominic Bird (illness), Ryan Crotty and Colin Slade – would not be involved.

“(Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder) was quite keen for Matt to play and we were quite keen for him to play,” Hansen said.

“Bird has been ill and he’s lost about 4kgs in the last couple of days with diarrhoea so he’s not in any shape to play and Crotty has played a lot of rugby during the season.”

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