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All Blacks' Israel Dagg sidelined by knee issue

Israel Dagg is set to join the All Blacks' burgeoning casualty ward, with coach Steve Hansen confirming on Thursday that the stalwart winger needs time away from the game.

Dagg, 29, underwent knee surgery after suffering an injury playing for the Crusaders in early March, returning to the field only in late May.

He went on to play all three British & Irish Lions Tests, as well as a protagonist's role in the Crusaders' Super Rugby triumph, but he was rested from the All Blacks' two Bledisloe Cup Tests against Australia.

Dagg played fewer than 50 minutes in the 39-22 win over Argentina, after characterising his knee niggle as a case of "old man syndrome", but the issue appears more serious than he had intimated.

Hansen has not selected the 66-Test ace for this weekend's Test against South Africa, and he said that Dagg's injury prospects were poor even though the exact timeframe for recovery remained unclear.

"We're getting more and more information on that and it doesn't look great at this stage," Hansen said.

"It looks like he's going to need some time away."