All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg expressed his sympathy for disgraced England centre Mike Tindall and believes he could have been the one taking all the flak had New Zealand not won the World Cup.
Dagg and teammate Cory Jane were embarrassed for late-night boozing just 72 hours before the All Blacks were due to face Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals. Dagg was injured and not involved, but Jane had already been named in the starting XV.
Luckily for the pair New Zealand defeated Argentina and went on to win the Webb Ellis Cup, with Jane playing out of his skin in the quarterfinal to take the heat off him. Dagg followed up with excellent showing in both the semifinal and the final to make amends for his part in the drinking scandal.
However, the 23-year-old is all too aware of how differently things could have gone following the boozing session.
"We had plenty of criticism, too, but it's good teams that deal with those things and win World Cups," Dagg told the London Evening Standard. "I'm sure if we'd lost one of our tight games we would have been slaughtered just as much [as Tindall].
"It was a silly, silly thing that Cory and I did that night. We had been locked up in a hotel and we wanted to get out for a bit and went a bit too hard. But we came together as a team and we felt we redeemed ourselves.
"You are always doing interviews and press conferences during the World Cup. Then the media try get to your family because you aren't talking, and that is tough."
Tindall and the English side were not so lucky following the now infamous night out with dwarf-tossing and the mysterious blonde woman in all the headlines.
Dagg expressed his sympathy for the English players, who weren't able to shake off the problems off the pitch by producing the goods in their World Cup matches.
"I feel sorry for England because the whole Tindall thing was rumbling through the tournament. It's a media thing, they like to blow things up," he said.
"England are going through some tough times now but I'm sure they'll get through it. They are a great nation and play some great footy."
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