WELLINGTON, New Zealand - All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg has bamboozled many defenders with his clever footwork, his subtle changes of pace and angle.
But he had a substantial international media contingent entirely mystified on Tuesday when asked to explain the unusual try-scoring celebrations he has performed at the Rugby World Cup.
Dagg scored two tries in New Zealand's 37-17 win over France on Saturday and the unusual manner in which he marked both touchdowns — a cryptic collection of hand and arm gestures — baffled many fans.
Asked to explain the meaning of the celebration at a news conference on Monday, Dagg left reporters more baffled than before.
In New Zealand slang, a dag is a humorous person, and Dagg lived up to the name with an explanation which would have stumped the most acerbic sleuth or cryptologist.
"To be honest I can't really talk about it," Dagg said at first, though he was clearly itching to do so.
"I won't be sharing any information about it but I can give you a few clues about it. The first clue is the dog meows. And that's a clue about it. That's one I'll leave you with."
Asked if it might be seen again at the tournament or if it might evolve into something new and even more bewildering, Dagg was equally cryptic.
"It will stay the same," he said. "You might see it come out at some other stage of the tournament or someone random might pull it out. So we'll just have to wait and see."
Pressed for another clue he said, "I'll give you another clue. The laughing bear drives a motorcycle. That's my last clue for today."
Dagg said it was unlikely the celebration would be seen in the Rugby World Cup final, if New Zealand makes it that far. He suggested the occasion might be too august for such frivolity.
All Blacks flyhalf Daniel Carter was as bewildered as reporters as he sat next to Dagg through his explanation.
Asked if he knew what Dagg was talking about, Carter replied, "I think he's got this little private gang or thing I'm not associated with. It makes no sense with me."