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'It's quite sad': Israel Dagg reacts to dropped star's stunning news

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

World Cup winner Israel Dagg has described the All Blacks’ treatment of Pita Gus Sowakula as “quite sad” following the star backrowers shocking revelation this week.

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Sowakula, who made his Test debut in the coveted black jersey earlier this year, is set to embark on a new challenge in France after inking a deal with European powerhouse Clermont.

The rampaging backrower will leave New Zealand’s shores at the end of next year’s Super Rugby campaign on a two-year deal with the French club.

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After making a try-scoring Test debut in the epic win over World No. 1 Ireland earlier this year, Sowakula only made one more appearance for the All Blacks before being dropped.

The 28-year-old wasn’t included in the Ian Foster’s plans for the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship campaign and their end-of-season tour.

While the two-Test All Black is still daring to dream ahead of next year’s World Cup, Sowakula’s comments from this week suggest he may be an outside chance of making the prestigious squad.

Sowakula revealed that he hasn’t received much feedback from the All Blacks selectors after being dropped from the national squad, although he doesn’t “feel let down.”

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“No, not really,” Sowakula told Newshub. “Just with my coaches here (at the Chiefs), telling me to just keep working hard, get back into next season and to play my best footy – and try and be available for that squad.

“It’s all part of it, (it’s) just not being in the squad or not getting picked, I’ll just move on from here, I don’t feel let down or anything.”

The Chiefs loose forward entered the fray of international rugby against the world’s top ranked side Ireland earlier this year, and he truly made his presence felt during his cameo off the bench.

Sowakula ran out onto Eden Park with just over 15 minutes to play, with the All Blacks in control of the Test – leading 35-12 at the time.

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But the debutant left his mark on the idyllic start to the year for the men in black, as the 28-year-old crossed for his first international try with nine minutes to run on the clock.

That being said, a week is a long time in international rugby.

Sport is a results driven business and fans watch on eagerly every weekend, in the hope that their team will do enough to get the job done.

But unfortunately for the All Blacks, they were beaten the following weekend by Ireland, as another chapter of this incredible rivalry was written into the history books.

Ireland’s first-ever win over the All Blacks on New Zealand was a defining moment for the men in black, who were harbouring genuine ambitions of winning the 2023 World Cup.

That night was Sowakula’s last appearance in a black jersey to date, but the response from the All Blacks since has left Israel Dagg feeling “deflated.”

“I feel deflated,” Dagg said on SENZ Breakfast

“It’s quite sad because you’ve got to understand, (John) Plumtree selected him, he’s gone. Brad Moor was in there, he’s gone.

“There’s been so many changes so there’s probably mixed message but there’s still no excuses like he hasn’t been even spoken to.

“We talk about it plenty, players getting that one All Blacks jersey and never really kicking on, and it stops them, it stops them. You can’t really understand the impact it has until you’ve been in there.

“Playing overseas is tougher, there’s no real international credibility to go forward and play in France or an opportunity to go play over there.

“It’s not ideal. He wants to play in the World Cup and he’s got to have a huge year. It’s not a good look for the ABs.”

It’s undeniable that Sowakula needs a massive Super Rugby season next year if he’s going to be in wit a chance of making the illustrious World Cup squad.

Dagg, who starred at the drought-breaking 2011 tournament in New Zealand, believes the backrower’s chances of making the team are “very unlikely.”

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