Israel Dagg says he almost quit the game after missing out on selection for the All Blacks’ 2o15 World Cup squad.
The 30-year-old back recently retired from rugby after battling to recover from a knee injury. He played 66 Tests for the All Blacks, winning the World Cup in 2011, and 89 matches for the Crusaders.
‘I was down, I hated rugby,’ Dagg revealed. ‘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”.’
When Dagg returned to his roots at Hawke’s Bay, he suffered a serious shoulder injury and relied on family and friends to help him work through his mental health issues.
‘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,’ Dagg said.
‘People cry and need to share their emotions. Everyone has their vulnerabilities and moments.
‘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 OK to cry.
‘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.
‘It’s OK to share your feelings with people because they want to help you, but if they don’t know then they can’t help.’