FI­FITA & SHIELDS FRIENDS BE­COME FOES

NZ Rugby World - - The Breakdown -

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.

#Eng­land #Al­lBlacks

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