FIFITA & SHIELDS FRIENDS BECOME FOES
THIS ISN’T AS RIDICULOUS AS
IT SEEMS – because the odds are shortening on current Hurricanes teammates Brad Shields and Vaea Fifita opposing each other at Twickenham later this year.
Shields is leaving for Wasps when Super Rugby finishes and he’s already been contacted by England coach Eddie Jones. Shields is eligible for England through his parents and the bruising Hurricanes blindside-cum-No 8 is precisely the sort of player Jones is looking for.
While it may see a little farfetched to imagine that Shields could arrive at Wasps in August and be a test player by November, it’s not really.
England are in dire need of new blood in their back row – players with more presence at the breakdown and the speed to get there. It was at the breakdown where they came o second best against Scotland and France in the Six Nations, leading Jones to say:
“The game is changing a little bit. We are probably slow to adapt to it. We are not adapting to the referee’s interpretation at the ruck as well as we should. They are painful lessons at the moment.
“The breakdown’s certainly becoming more contestable. There are di erent interpretations of the ruck that are being refereed, and the contest has increased enormously and we’re failing to cope with that at the moment and must find ways to cope with it. It’s simple as that. It will take some time and won’t come quickly.”
Shields may well be in the squad by the time the All Blacks arrive to play England on November 10 and the potential for him to be slugging it out against Fifita adds another sub plot to an already intriguing test.