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From Rugby to Radio

From Ferocious Fullback to Doting Dad

He made a name for himself side-stepping the opposition, flying down the wing and diving over the try line, but former All Black turned radio host Israel Dagg has found a new lease of life far away from the rugby field.


These days Israel, or Izzy as he’s better known, can be found working from the comfort of his sun-soaked Clarkeville home, north of Christchurch. In what can only be described as a dream set-up, the former rugby star has established a nifty home office which has been converted into a radio studio. It’s here he broadcasts his regular breakfast show on SENZ Radio, along with former National Rugby League player and New Zealand Warriors coach, Tony Kemp.


“My alarm goes off at 20 to 5 in the morning when everyone is still snoring. I get up, make my coffee and head to the studio, which is outside in the pool house,” Izzy says. While Kemp and the rest of the team broadcast from a studio more than 1000 kilometres away in Auckland, Izzy feels lucky he can work from the comfort of home “Before I took this job, I thought there’s no way in hell this will work. But the magic of radio is absolutely crazy – you can be anywhere in the world as long as you’ve got the right gear,” Izzy explains.


Working in the media was a natural transition for Izzy, who made a name for himself as a fast and ferocious fullback for New Zealand’s adored national rugby union team, the All Blacks. Izzy first laced up his boots for the All Blacks in 2010 at the tender age of 21. It was a dream come true for a young man who’d come from humble beginnings in the Hawke’s Bay region. “I grew up in a state home in Hawke’s Bay. We didn’t have much – not even a rugby ball. My brothers and I used to play around with clothes in a pillowcase instead,” Izzy remembers.


“I’ll never forget the moment when Ritchie McCaw presented me with my first All Blacks cap. Mum and dad were in tears. “I was proud for myself, but I was more proud for my family.”

After a prominent career on the pitch, consisting of more than 100 Super Rugby Games, countless international caps and a coveted World Cup win, Izzy was forced to retire in 2017 following repeated injuries. But for Izzy, it was important to go out on his terms. “I’d actually nearly quit rugby back in 2015. I was 27 years of age and struggling with form. I got dropped from the All Blacks and missed the World Cup,” Izzy says. “But that really pushed me to do better and come back and finish my career on my terms.”


For all his success on the field, Izzy says his greatest achievement is becoming a dad to Arlo, 6, and Tilly, 5. “Everything to date that I’ve been able to achieve, those kids are by far my greatest achievement,” Izzy expresses. “The smiles, the laughs, the challenges they provide you on a daily basis. It’s just the best.”


By Izzy’s side, through all the ups and downs of his professional rugby career has been the love of his life, Daisy.


The pair met as teenagers in Hawke’s Bay and have been by each other’s side ever since. “People say without Daisy I wouldn’t be here today. We met at ‘Horse of the Year’ at the Hasting Showground, 20 years ago. I got her number, we talked for a wee while but it took me a while to get her to commit,” Izzy looks back. “She’s been amazing; she’s given me two beautiful kids. I couldn’t do it without her. She’s the only one who really understands and knows, she never judges and she’s got a beautiful heart.”


Izzy, Daisy and their two children have called the quaint village of Clarkeville home for the past two years, building their dream home on a spacious lifestyle block.


“We wanted a bit of land and space. My wife grew up on a farm but I’m a ‘townie’ through and through, so I’ve had to learn a lot over the past few months” “Here we’ve got a pony that my daughter just loves and my son’s got a motorbike. We wanted something that’s us.”


But with the space and freedom of a lifestyle block comes plenty of yard work. And after years of playing on some of the world’s most celebrated surfaces, Izzy Dagg takes pride in keeping his lawn in tip-top shape. “My lawn is the thing I’m most proud of. It’s my favourite thing about the property. It’s not perfect, there’s a few weeds and dead patches here and there, but I love it. When we moved here, we weren’t sure how big the lawn was going to be, but I know a rugby field, so I just started taking steps. One hundred metres in one direction, ninety across and then a hundred back. So, I’ve got a huge lawn. It takes forever to mow and the upkeep is crazy, but I just love it.”


With a lawn literally the size of a rugby field, Izzy says it’s important he has the best mower to help keep it in pristine condition. That’s why he turned to Kubota’s Z252 zero-turn mower. “Man, I’m so happy, it’s so simple and easy to use. I especially love the push to start. The safety features are unreal too,” Izzy says. “As soon as I get up, the mower shuts off and that’s great peace of mind for me with the kids about.”


But for Izzy, the defining feature of the Kubota Z252 is its close, precision cut. “The mower deck can drop down really low. As a huge golf fan who’s admired the best fairways in the world, I’ve always wanted that fine fescue low cut feel,” Izzy reports. “This mower cuts so finely. The precision is next to none and the grass is left even throughout.”


“The Z252 really is my pride and joy. She gets the job done time and time again, keeping my giant lawn in check.”


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