“For Me Mental Health Is A Lot More Important Than Playing Rugby.”

Health first.

Liam Squire has opened up on why he turned down the opportunity to represent the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, saying he didn’t feel “physically or mentally” ready for the pressures of Test rugby.

The 28-year-old, who has 23 caps for New Zealand, made himself unavailable for the Rugby Championship and after a phone call with All Blacks boss Steve Hansen – opted to remain unavailable for the World Cup in Japan.

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He has however stated that he would be open to arriving late as an injury replacement if he’s needed – and providing he’s playing well enough. Squire is currently playing in the Mitre 10 Cup with Tasman Mako.

“After what has been a really tough year for me mentally and physically, and after speaking with people I trust on whether I should make myself available again for the All Blacks, I felt I wasn’t ready just yet physically or mentally for the pressures of test match rugby,” Squire wrote on Instagram.

“I feel I need to earn the right to pull on the Black jersey again through performing well for my beloved Tasman Mako and keep ticking the boxes there.

“As Steve said yesterday, if the All Blacks do get injuries, and I’m performing well enough, then I’m 100% available. The decision has been bloody hard but I feel it’s the best one for me and the All Blacks. I wish the team every success and am behind them 100%.

“I have never been one to speak a lot publicly so I hope people can respect my privacy and decision on this and I can move forward and keep enjoying my rugby.

“For me mental health is a lot more important than playing rugby.”