This morning, Israel Dagg announced his immediate retirement from professional rugby.
In 2010, Dagg burst onto the All Blacks scene: deceptively quick with a booming left boot and some of the wildest facial expressions you’ll see on a rugby field, it wasn’t long before Dagg cemented himself as a fan favourite.
Who can forget the 2010 Tri-Nations match between the All Blacks and the Springboks in Johannesburg when Dagg received the offload from a one-shoed Ma’a Nonu in the final minute of the game to create the match-winning try that also sewed up the tournament for New Zealand?
Only a year later, Dagg was a key member of the All Blacks World Cup squad that took out the competition at home – usurping test centurion Mils Muliaiana for the fullback jersey and starting both the semi-final and final at 15.
Since debuting for the Hawke’s Bay Magpies in New Zealand’s provincial competition in 2006 at just 18 years of age, Dagg has forged a successful career with both the Crusaders and the All Blacks, earning almost 180 caps over Super Rugby and All Blacks matches. He has also managed to notch up a half-century with the Magpies in that time.
Like all good things, however, Dagg’s career must now come to an end. A run of bad luck with injuries has meant his body can no longer keep up with the strain of professional rugby and, after his latest lengthy knee injury, Dagg has decided that now is the time to hang up his boots.
“It’s been an honour to represent the All Blacks, Crusaders and Hawke’s Bay over the years and I’m incredibly proud to have worn each of those jerseys throughout my career,” Dagg has said regarding his glittering career.
“While it’s bittersweet to mark the end of my playing career, I’m grateful to still be able to contribute to this Crusaders team in 2019 and help prepare some of the younger squad members to take the next step in their own careers.”
Fans have understandably been quick to commemorate the outside back’s career on social media.
Sad news about Israel Dagg. Hell of a player in his prime
— Anthony Lewis (@tonylewis92) April 4, 2019
"Dagg, Dagg, beautiful running, Israel Dagg, still goooing, Is-rael Dagg. Hooo! Hooo! What a try!"
— Stephen Clark (@ClarkHistoryPol) April 4, 2019
— Ciku Njoroge ???? (@babyshyx) April 4, 2019
I was worried the fella would have to hang them up with this long term injury ? sad day for rugby, one of the characters and all round class act.
All the best in whatever you do brother @izzy_dagg #149 ??? pic.twitter.com/5DyjsQxjvX
— Lloyd Jones (@LloydJones1882) April 4, 2019
— Ludumo Nkabi (@Ludz19) April 4, 2019
Izzy Dagg is one of the best players I’ve ever seen in an Allblack Jersey, terrible injury has had to end his career.
— Philasande Sixaba (@psixaba) April 4, 2019
Congrats to @izzy_dagg on a stellar rugby career. Always played the game the right way – fun at the centre!
Mid-career pivot to cricket? DO IT!
— Jamie Paul Lloyd (@jamiepaullloyd) April 4, 2019
— Tony Stuart (@TonyStuart55) April 4, 2019
Whilst Dagg’s playing future is over, he will continue to be involved with the Crusaders for 2019. What’s next for Dagg after that is anyone’s guess, but a future in the media could beckon for the affable All Black.
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