New Zealand boss Steve Hansen stirs the pot on Brad Shields England call-up: 'He would probably have been an All Black this year'
New Zealand made their feelings very clear when England demanded Brad Shields be allowed to join up with Eddie Jones' squad for the summer tour to South Africa. They were not happy.
Not just due to the fact that the Hurricanes will be losing their captain for a period of time he would otherwise be resting - Super Rugby shuts down during the international period - but because one of the country's form back-row forwards is turning his back on the country of his birth to represent the land of his parents.
Playing for Wasps - the club Shields will represent next season - is one thing, playing for England is something else altogether. Ultimately, the RFU got its way, citing World Rugby rules, and the NZRU was obliged to make Shields available to England. But it rankled.
Now All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has stirred the pot by claiming Shields would "probably" have been included in the All Blacks squad this year, if he had shown more patience and stayed put.
Hansen has named a new-look set of loose forwards to face France next month, with potential Test debutants Jordan Taufua and Shannon Frizell earning call-ups. Hansen, slightly mischievously, has now suggested Shields could have been one of them.
"It is obviously one of those positions... he probably would have made this team this year," Hansen told Newstalk ZB's Martin Devlin, when asked if Shields was on the radar.
"I wish him all the best. He wants to play Test rugby, he obviously didn't see a future here.
"Straight away Jerome Kaino retired, Reado [Kieran Read] is injured, Liam Squire hasn't played a lot of rugby this year. The six/eight role has become a focus for us this year.
"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.
"That's my point to the people who have missed out today - we used 54 players last year and we won't just use 33 this year.
"Someone will get an opportunity and if they mentally stay in the game, stay in the fight through being resilient with how they prepare and how they play on game day, they will get that opportunity."