World Cup-winning All Black Israel Dagg knew it was time for him to pull the plug on his rugby career when he could hardly walk the day after trying to chase down a Crusaders teammate in training.

The 30-year old utility back announced his retirement on Friday, ending a career spanning 13 years and 66 tests, jokingly adding that his rapid weight gain had made the decision easier.

Dagg has battled a string of serious injuries, including to his shoulder and right knee, for a number of years before taking medical advice to hang up his boots.

"My knee's been pretty niggly for the last couple of years so it's been coming for a while. I'm just glad it's out there and I'm just very grateful to everyone for showing me the support and love…it's been going crazy," Dagg told The Hits Christchurch.


"It's just been bone on bone every time I run, kick …it's just constantly rubbing and bruising the bone. I had major surgery to get it fixed and I've just had to call it quits on the footy. And now I just have to worry about life."

Israel Dagg played 66 tests for the All Blacks since making his debut in 2010. Photo / Photosport
Israel Dagg played 66 tests for the All Blacks since making his debut in 2010. Photo / Photosport

Being unable to train at full tilt hasn't made things easier, Dagg joked.

"My arse is a bit bigger than it usually is…that's probably putting a lot of pressure on my knee as well as I can't really jog and run.

"I actually tried to run around with the [Crusaders] lads the other day and tried to chase Richie Mo'unga and the next day I couldn't really walk, so I made my decision."

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As a little kid growing up in Hawkes bay I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have travelled the road I have with Rugby. On a scholarship to lindisfarne college and thanks to my mum working two jobs I was able to show off some skills playing school rugby where I was spotted, then selected to play for @hbmagpies at 17. From there I had an incredible year playing @allblacks7s before being selected to start my super rugby career playing two years for @highlandersteam then the last 8 years with my brothers in the @crusadersrugbyteam. Amongst that... every little boys dream - running onto that field 66 times wearing the black jersey, representing my country with pride and honour for the @allblacks. Unfortunately my dream career has come to an end due to a increasingly painful and unfixable right knee, my rugby days are over. There is not enough space in this post to thank everyone I have met and who has influenced and helped me along this road but here are a few.... all my incredible coaches, trainers, managers, sponsors, especially @adidasnz providing me with all the gears and tools needed to play my game, my amazing agent @si_porter10 and @halosportnz , all the incredible friends I have met along the way, my fans that stuck with me even through the rough days and finally last but not least my family... my mum and dad who have been incredible support from day one, sisters and brothers, friends and my wife @daisydagg who was there from my school rugby days, right through to my last. Your love, support and guidance has meant the world to me. Arlo and Tilly I love you so so much and I can’t wait to watch you grow and support you through the good and the tough times (eh Tilly) haha .. if I have forgot someone then tough luck ha nah thanks again everyone I’m all good and super excited for the next chapter in my life 🙏🙏 love you all and peace ❤️ #AB1101 #CRU149

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Dagg made his debut as an 18-year-old for his Hawke's Bay provincial side in 2006 and played his first test four years later. He represented the Crusaders 89 times.

He was part of the victorious World Cup side in 2011 and claimed back-to-back Super Rugby championships with the Crusaders in 2017 and 2018.

Dagg revealed he nearly quit four years ago after failing to make the All Blacks squad for the 2015 World Cup.

"I just didn't enjoy the game. I remember thinking, 'I shouldn't be feeling like this. It's only a game'. Feeling down and unhappy," he said.

"And then I got injured, I dislocated my shoulder and I had six months away from the game. I came back and started playing again and that's probably the best moment [of his career]. Just finding that love for the game again.


"It is tough. I've got some great memories… rugby's given me everything. I've seen the world, played with the best players in the world, played in the best teams, so knowing that I'm not going to be stepping out on that field is pretty sad."