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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Steve Hansen: Brad Shields would 'probably' have had All Blacks call-up had he not opted for England

The Wellington Hurricanes captain had made himself available for England and is in their squad for June's tour of South Africa

Brad Shields, right, in action for Wellington Hurricanes, is in the England squad but has been told he 'probably' would have been called up by New Zealand had he still been available. Mark Tantrum / AFP
Brad Shields, right, in action for Wellington Hurricanes, is in the England squad but has been told he 'probably' would have been called up by New Zealand had he still been available. Mark Tantrum / AFP

Brad Shields' decision to opt for an England jersey cost him a "probable" slot in the New Zealand side, coach Steve Hansen said Sunday as two new loose forwards were selected for the All Blacks.

Wellington Hurricanes captain Shields, whose parents are English, cited constantly being overlooked for the All Blacks as a factor when he switched allegiance to England and won selection for their June tour of South Africa.

But Hansen, who named his squad on Sunday to play France next month, said Shields would "probably" have been selected had he been available.

Injuries and form forced Hansen to select four inexperienced loose forwards - newcomers Jordan Taufua and Shannon Frizell along with Vaea Fifita and Luke Whitelock who have seven Tests between them.

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"It is obviously one of those positions ... he (Shields) probably would have made this team this year," Hansen told Radio Newstalk ZB.

"I wish him all the best. He wants to play Test rugby, he obviously didn't see a future here."

With the retirement of Jerome Kaino and injuries to Kieran Read and Liam Squire, Hansen said filling the six and eight jerseys had been a focus for the selectors.

"That's the thing about the All Blacks - you've got to stay resilient because you are always up against someone else as good if not a little better.

"If you are not prepared to wait for the opportunity and keep working at it you are not going to get it."

The 33-man squad included three new faces with scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi joining Taufua and Frizell.

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Another three players - prop Tim Perry and backs Richie Mo'unga and Jack Goodhue - were involved with the All Blacks on last year's northern tour but have yet to make their Test debuts.

The 95-Test lock Sam Whitelock will captain the side in the absence of Read who is not expected to start playing again until July following surgery on his spine at the end of last season.

Shields, meanwhile, will continue to live in New Zealand and play Super Rugby for the Hurricanes until the end of the season when he will move to England to join Wasps.

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