'I was down' - Israel Dagg opens up about 2015 RWC non-selection, urges Kiwi men to get help for mental health issues

Retired All Black Israel Dagg has opened up about mental health struggles he experienced after missing out on selection for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Israel Dagg Source: Getty

Dagg, 30, called time on his playing career earlier this month, having battled injury after injury over the past couple of seasons.

In the lead up to the 2015 World Cup in England, Dagg was a high profile omission from Steve Hansen's squad, losing his spot as the All Blacks' first-choice fullback to Ben Smith.

Speaking to the All Blacks Podcast, Dagg revealed that his missing out on the tournament nearly meant the end of his career, plunging into a downwards mental health spiral.

"I was down, I hated rugby," Dagg said.

"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'."

Source: TVNZ

Dagg though also insisted that it's important - for men in particular - to get help, rather than suffer in silence.

"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.

"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 okay to share your feelings with people because they want to help you, but if they don't know then they can't help."

Dagg would return to form in 2016, re-inventing himself as a winger in Steve Hansen's side, before injuries forced him to retire earlier this month.