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'It's bittersweet' - All Black Israel Dagg retires, effective immediately, from rugby

All Black Israel Dagg has stunned the rugby world this morning by announcing his sudden retirement from the game due to ongoing issues with injury.

The announcement comes after 30-year-old Dagg's long-term knee injury hadn't allowed him to train and play at an elite level, so after taking medical advice he has decided to retire.

"It's been an honour to represent the All Blacks, Crusaders and Hawke's Bay over the years and I'm incredibly proud to have worn each of those jerseys throughout my career," he said in a statement.

"While it's bittersweet to mark the end of my playing career, I'm grateful to still be able to contribute to this Crusaders team in 2019 and help prepare some of the younger squad members to take the next step in their own careers.

"On a personal note, I'm looking forward to taking on some new challenges in the future, and looking forward to spending more time with my young family."

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Dagg ends his career having played 66 Tests for the All Blacks over eight years (2010 - 2017), 89 matches for the Crusaders (2011 - 2018), 25 games for the Highlanders (2009-2010), and 50 appearances for his beloved Hawke's Bay Magpies (2006 - 2015).

Tributes have already begun to flow for Dagg, with New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew thanking the outside back for his "stellar service" to the game.

"He leaves us as one of the greats of our game and the second most capped All Blacks fullback of all time. He was an excitement machine on the rugby field and fans knew that when he got the ball in his hands that anything could happen."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has also thanked Dagg, saying he "definitely enhanced the All Blacks jersey and contributed to the legacy of the team".

"We'll all miss his outstanding rugby skills on the field, but he was a real character off the field as well. We'll look back fondly at his time in the black jersey - he's a very special man and a very special player."

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Crusaders coach Scott Robertson felt that positivity on and off the pitch as well.

"Izzy has been a leader within the Crusaders for a long time and has been driving our culture throughout his career. He'll stay in our environment and remain an important part of this 2019 campaign - which shows the measure of the man."

Dagg finishes his career a World Cup winner (2011) and two-time Super Rugby champion (2017, 2018).

Israel Dagg Source: Getty