The time an All Blacks star turned down Leinster which led to James Lowe arrival

Adam Kyriacou
Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in action for All Blacks.

Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in action for All Blacks.

Jordie Barrett will become the next All Blacks star to pull on the Leinster jersey, but seven years ago another came close to signing for the Irish province.

That player was All Blacks and Crusaders full-back Israel Dagg, who revealed in 2022 that he had been close to making the switch to the side but decided against it.

Dagg admitted that he had visited Leinster headquarters in 2016 but a combination of the weather and failing to convince his wife meant the move never happened.

Went for James Lowe

That led to Leinster turning their focus to wing James Lowe and the rest, as they say, is ancient history as the former Chiefs finisher has been an incredible addition.

As mentioned, Dagg dropped into the Leinster headquarters during the All Blacks‘ northern tour in 2016 and revealed he was “really close” to joining the province.

“I was really close to signing for Leinster. What stopped me from signing was it was so cold! It was freezing. I’m from Christchurch, where it’s very cold, but that place is on another level,” he told

All Blacks star Jordie Barrett to make Leinster switch as long-term future secured

“I went to the Leinster headquarters with Isa Nacewa and saw the whole complex. I loved it. I had to try to convince the wife, she was obviously a big part of it. She said no.

“I turned the deal down, came back to New Zealand, and they actually gave my contract to James Lowe.”

While Dagg clearly had regrets about not joining the European giants, the former Hawke’s Bay, Highlanders and Crusaders wide man was still proud of his career.

“I never really got to experience anything outside of New Zealand. I went to Japan for two months towards the end of my career, but my knee was very bad. I couldn’t really play, I was just not in a happy place, my body was breaking down,” he said.

Dagg had regrets

“I never got to understand what rugby means to other nations and what it means to different players. And how good would it have been playing with world-class players in Ireland, or in England, or whatever.

“But in saying that, I had a pretty special career. I started when I was still at school playing for Hawke’s Bay, playing the grades, and to experience what I feel was a golden era in New Zealand rugby.”

He added: “I got to play with the greats of all-time, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith…the backline was freakish. So I pinch myself, but I would have loved to have gone and experience a different culture.”

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