Barrett: Playing against England’s Shields will be ‘weird’
Fix an eye on Brad Shields as he watches the All Blacks perform the haka tomorrow morning.
Because if Steve Hansen is on the money, former Hurricanes captain Shields, who will start at No 6 for England in London, could have trouble controlling his emotions as he silently stands and observes the men in black lining up against him at Twickenham.
All Blacks coach Hansen drew on his own experiences as he explained what it was like to try and send your own countrymen down the plughole in a test match.
Hansen coached against the All Blacks when he was in charge of Wales in the early 2000s, and later, when he returned to New Zealand to work with the All Blacks, he then had to plot the downfall of Wales.
‘‘He is going to be lining up facing the haka, facing the team that he has always wanted to play for and unfortunately we didn’t pick him . . . now he has got the opportunity to play against them,’’ Hansen said. ‘‘Some of his great mates are in that team. I think he will find that emotional.’’
Growing up in New Zealand Shields dreamed of representing the All Blacks, and was good enough to be picked for the national under-20 side.
But he thought he wasn’t going to crack the test team and elected to align himself with England after signing with premiership club Wasps. The fact parents Nigel and Danielle are English – they moved to New Zealand before Brad was born – meant he was eligible to wear the red rose.
Now Shields will be trying to bowl his former Hurricanes teammates Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea from the kick-off, along with reserves Dane Coles and TJ Perenara who will take the field in the second half.
‘‘I don’t know how I feel about it,’’ Barrett explained. ‘‘It is going to be weird. Hopefully I don’t see him out there too much, because he is a big brute and he will probably try and line me up.’’