Shannon Frizell's Tongan mentor has recalled the moment four years ago when he told the rising All Black to "fight for your life", that he had a chance to no longer be "poor".

Prophetically, Frizell's 2014 date with destiny came in Nelson where the gifted Highlanders loose forward will make his second test start against Argentina on Saturday night.

Father Filipe Seluini Akau'ola was in charge of a Marist Pacific Invitational team which was about to play the Tasman Mako under-19s.

Father Akau'ola seized the moment by calling his star player aside.


"While the boys started walking to go and change I saw the development team already warming up," he told the Radio Sport Breakfast from Tonga, where Frizell was raised by his adopted family.

"I called Shannon back (and) I said to him 'you know why we came'

"He said 'we came to play rugby'. I said 'I brought you (on tour) because of tonight's game...look at these guys there, they have a life, the reason why we are here is because we are poor.

"I said 'don't play for me, play for yourself, remember it's for your life'.

"Tonight if you want something for your life, tonight you fight for your life'. I said 'can you do it?' He said 'yes I will'."

School principal Akau'ola said Frizell was a small player, a first five-eighth, when he first met the youngster at Apifo'ou College in Nuku'alofa.

"I knew from his attitude, that's what struck me, he wanted to give his all to what he does," Akau'ola said.

"When Tasman took him, I told him there is no stopping him...the only way to stop is to get with the All Blacks.


"He said yes, but that's the attitude of Shannon which I admired from school. He continued with that. I can't say thank you enough to him for having that."

Frizell's New Zealand career began via a 2015 development contract with Tasman, and he signed with the Highlanders last year.

The 24-year-old's blazing performance against the Blues at Eden Park in April, when he scored three tries and flamboyantly set up another, confirmed the dreams were becoming reality.

"That is what we intended for him but I didn't know how far he would was more just to help him," Akau'ola said.

"I said when Tasman took him 'there is no stopping you going as far as you want'."