AUCKLAND, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Israel Dagg looks set to sit out the remainder of the season with the All Blacks winger to have scans on a troublesome knee injury later this week to confirm the long-term prognosis, coach Steve Hansen said on Sunday.
Dagg missed the All Blacks’ 57-0 demolition of South Africa at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday due to the injury, which he picked up in Super Rugby.
He missed the first two Rugby Championship clashes against Australia but returned last week against Argentina in New Plymouth before being forced off when the injury flared up again.
”I’d say he’ll need some time out of the game,“ Hansen told reporters on Sunday. ”It sounds like there’s some cartilage surface damage to the knee that needs a bit of rest.
“Doc is pretty confident if he gets the rest he’ll be fine so it probably means he’ll be out for the rest of the year.”
Hansen said he had not yet considered bringing in anyone else, with Dagg’s Canterbury Crusaders team mate David Havili providing cover in the squad.
The coach added that blindside flanker Liam Squire, who left the field in the first half on Saturday for a head injury assessment and did not return, had presented with no symptoms on Sunday.
“He’s pretty good this morning, so it looks positive,” said Hansen.
The All Blacks are likely to split their squad for the final two games of the Championship, with Hansen naming 28 players on Monday for the trip to Argentina for their clash with the Pumas in Buenos Aires.
He will also name 28 players for the match against the Springboks in Cape Town the following week, meaning some of his squad will only travel to Argentina and others only to South Africa.
Hansen had previously said he was looking at ways of ensuring his players arrived on their end-of-season tour of Europe not as fatigued as they had been in the past after 10 months of rugby.
“You’ve got nine weeks, seven test matches and 11 time zone changes,” Hansen said of the second half of his season. “How we manage that is going to be important.”
The All Blacks, who lead the Rugby Championship on 19 points, eight ahead of the Springboks, reassemble in Auckland on Friday for the trip to Argentina, where they can seal their second successive title with a victory.
Editing by Peter Rutherford;