Israel Dagg Opens Up About Mental Health Problems In Extraordinary Interview

“I hated rugby.”

Recently retired former All Blacks and Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg has opened up about his mental health struggles in an extraordinary open and honest interview.

Speaking to the All Blacks Podcast, the 66-times capped Test star revealed the deep trough he fell into following his All Blacks omission in 2015 and how friends and family got him through.

“I nearly retired in 2015. 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 pussy’ and ‘you’re so useless’. I was like, nah I shouldn’t be feeling like this.”

Recovering from a dislocated shoulder suffered while playing for Hawke’s Bay Magpies, Dagg says he found solace in his friends and family who helped him rediscover his love of the game.

Dagg says he learned “just to talk to people” and stressed “it’s okay to cry.”

“Having that close support network to get through those times was crucial. As men we don’t talk and we need to talk. You can’t bottle it up and do everything on your own. It is too hard and it will weigh you down. So if there is one thing I’ve learned it is just to talk to people. It’s okay to cry,” Dagg said.

“It’s okay to share your feelings with people because they want to help you, but if they don’t know then they can’t help. 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 pussy and weak, but I don’t care. People cry and need to share their emotions. Everyone has their vulnerabilities and moments, so let you friends or family know if you are because people want to help.”

Dagg added that he credits the support of family and friends for helping him through the dark times and has a simple, but important message for anyone out there who maybe struggling with their own mental health.

“Just talk. Men and women. Just let it out. In New Zealand we are stubborn and strong. ‘We’ll be right’ seems to be the way of life. But we won’t be alright, just talk.”

Fair play to him. Having someone so high profile come out like this will help a lot of people. You’re not alone.

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