Former All Black Israel Dagg has opened up about his battles with mental health.
Earlier this month the 30-year-old retired from the game after taking medical advice, succumbing to a long-term knee injury which didn’t allow him to train and play at an elite level.
Dagg, a vastly decorated player, began his career in 2006 when he made his debut as an 18-year-old for his Hawke’s Bay provincial side. He ended his career having played 66 Tests for the All Blacks over eight years (2010-2017), 89 matches for the Crusaders (2011-2018), 25 games for the Highlanders (2009-2010), and 50 appearances for his beloved Hawke’s Bay Magpies (2006-2015).
But now Dagg has revealed his struggles when speaking to the All Blacks podcast.
“I was down, I hated rugby. I was walking down the street and I would look at people and think to myself ‘he’s looking at me going ‘you’re a pu**y’ and ‘you’re so useless’. I was like, ‘nah I shouldn’t be feeling like this’.”
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A World Cup winner in 2011, one of his big disappointments in his career came when he missed out on selection for the 2015 tournament in England.
Gutted to not be in the RWC2015 team but congrats and all the best @AllBlacks men.. it's been a hell of a journey cheers
— Israel Akuhata Dagg (@izzy_dagg) August 30, 2015
Dagg admitted he considered walking away from the game then, but when recovering from a dislocated shoulder he says that family and friends re-ignited his passion for the game.
“Having that close support network to get through those times was crucial. As men we don’t talk and we need to talk,” he revealed.
“You can’t bottle it up and do everything on your own. It is too hard and it will weigh you down,” he said.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned it is just to talk to people. It’s OK to cry.
“I’ve had moments when I’ve cried to my best mates and I’ve cried to my wife and there’s some people out there that might think I’m a pu**y and weak, but I don’t care. People cry and need to share their emotions.”
In other news: Waratahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps speaks about Folau saga
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