Meet Shannon Frizell, the very quiet assassin
You would believe Shannon Frizell if he said he would rather sit in a tub of poisonous spiders than face a row of TV cameras.
When the new All Black, who will start at blindside flanker against France in Dunedin tomorrow night, was asked by a journalist what was the toughest part of being in the All Blacks he offered a unique response. ‘‘Facing media,’’ he said. Frizell wasn’t being mischievous. Some athletes like to play the staunch card and give little away in the public arena.
But it wasn’t like that with the Tongan born and raised Frizell. He was being honest.
At 1.95m and 108kg, Frizell, 24, has an impressive physique and in 10 outings for the Highlanders offered glimpses of his dynamic ball-running skills and willingness to strike hard in the tackle.
Get him in a room loaded with quietly-humming electronics, digital recorders, clicking cameras and reporters and it’s clear this silent assassin would rather be elsewhere.
The quietly spoken back rower acknowledged that when at school in Tonga one his of classmates was Solomone Kata, who is now contracted to the Warriors rugby league club.
‘‘I was a soccer player, I just played rugby in my last year of school,’’ Frizell said. ‘‘When I was young, 17, I played soccer for Tonga. I was the goalkeeper.’’
His brother Tyson, who plays for the Dragons in the NRL and will represent NSW in the State of Origin game on Sunday night, was born in Australia.
Australian immigration laws prevented Shannon from joining his family, and when he was 22 he signed for the Tasman Makos in New Zealand.
‘‘I spoke to him [Tyson] when I got picked in the team [All Blacks]. I just told him I was nervous and stuff.’’
The Frizell family will be chuffed. To have two family members representing the world’s best rugby team and the pride of NSW rugby league on consecutive evenings on either side of the Tasman is a remarkable achievement.