Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Shields knows the drill for All Black selection

Brad Shields appeared in all the Hurricanes' games this year. Photo  / Getty Images
Brad Shields appeared in all the Hurricanes' games this year. Photo / Getty Images

Brad Shields has been given a job description and he understands what is required.

If the blindside flanker is going to force his way into the All Blacks in the future, he has been given a clear set of objectives from the selectors.

"They definitely want a No6 who's physical and stands out on the field," Shields said.

"Big tackles, big hits, hits rucks, carries hard - that's one of the main aspects that they want me to improve on, which you've got to relish and look forward to it."

As luck would have it, Shields will be given the chance to show the selectors how hard he can hit when Wellington line up against the All Blacks in a practice game in Lower Hutt tonight.

The 22-year-old has been a wider training group member of the national squad for the past year but is yet to crack a test debut.

He said having the opportunity to join the All Blacks camp had been a good learning curve.

"I just took a bit of experience. To be in the room with some of those guys is pretty awesome and I think it's going to get to a stage where hopefully I get picked.

"If I do I've just got to go hard and keep playing consistent rugby and take the most out of it that I can."

Hurricanes teammate Victor Vito was axed from the All Blacks last Sunday as Blues rookie Steven Luatua was chosen as the fifth loose forward in the 28-strong squad for the Rugby Championship.

Since Jerome Kaino's departure the All Blacks have searched for another bruising blindside and Vito hasn't done enough, while Liam Messam is yet to convince but will be given another chance.

Shields showed all the ingredients that make a new-age All Blacks No6 during this year's Super 15 season, with particularly impressive performances against the Stormers, Chiefs and Crusaders.

But the biggest achievement that came from this season was his ability to stay healthy.

After making too many visits to the emergency room previously, Shields appeared in all 16 of the Hurricanes games this year, including 13 starts at either blindside flanker or No8.

Now with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen watching on tonight, Shields can give the selectors another reminder of what he can do.

"I've just got to keep playing consistently and then it's out of my hands and the coaches will do what they do and hopefully something comes of it."

A big ITM Cup with Wellington should put the bustling Shields in pole position to earn a spot on this season's end-of-year tour to Japan, France, England and Ireland with the All Blacks.

- APNZ

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