5 things about England new boy Brad Shields
The New Zealand-born flanker is set to make his Red Rose debut this weekend.
Eddie Jones has sprung a surprise by naming Hurricanes captain Brad Shields on the bench for England’s first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five things you may not have known about the 27-year-old flanker.
Shields’ parents – Nigel and Danielle – live in Berkshire where they have resided for almost three years. They were both born in England before heading to New Zealand as children where they later met. Nigel served in the Royal New Zealand Signals Corps and completed several overseas postings accompanied by his family.
EDDIE COMES CALLING
As an ever-present for age grade New Zealand teams, Shields was hoping to eventually become an All Black. The years passed and it became apparent he was not in their back row plans, so after he was approached by Jones in 2017 the decision was made to switch allegiance. “One of my big motivators is that, at 26, it could be my last chance to be involved at a World Cup,” he said in January. “Last year things started to get real and I knew where I was positioned in New Zealand rugby.”
HANSEN’S PARTING SHOT
Shields turned down a place in New Zealand’s touring party bound for Europe last autumn having made up his mind to represent England. And when All Blacks coach Steve Hansen named his squad for the looming series against France he mischievously suggested that Shields had made the wrong call as he would “probably” have been involved, adding that prospective players must “stay resilient”. He also taunted England for selecting a Kiwi.
UNDER-20S FACE OFF
When Shields joined up with his new team-mates for the first time on Sunday, he saw some vaguely familiar faces. In 2011 he was part of the New Zealand Under-20 team that routed their English counterparts in the final of the Junior World Championships – opposition that included Owen Farrell, George Ford, Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury and Dan Robson amongst their number.
A more recent acquaintance is Joe Marler, the England prop against whom Shields played when Hurricanes captain during last summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. The pulsating clash at Westpac Stadium ended in a 31-31 draw and the blindside flanker reflects on the night with fond memories, saying “that game against the Lions last year was something I’ll never forget. For most of us, it was the closest we’ve ever got to international rugby and it reignited a bit of the passion and love. It was a special night.”