Meet Shan­non Frizell, the very quiet as­sas­sin

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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