When Shannon Frizell scored three times against the Blues this year there were appreciative descriptions about another impressive athlete.

He had barely introduced himself to his Highlanders teammates and there he was at Eden Park making another type of announcement. There were notes of caution that his stunning collection came against a modest Blues side and Frizell's rangy potent attack calmed a touch as he shared the starting duties with former All Black loosie Elliot Dixon.

How did Frizell stack up with his defensive tasks and did he have the horsepower to sustain his levels for long minutes?


The answer was positive from the All Black selectors who chose Frizell as one of their new faces in this year's squad. His elevation was not as remarkable as that of Karl Tu'inukuafe but it came close.

He was picked as a blindside flanker alongside Liam Squire, Vaea Fifita and Jordan Taufua and looked to be the apprentice until injury, hunches and work within the squad delivered a test debut against France.

Frizell has started twice more against the Pumas where his attacking lines, rugged defensive strength and workrate have commended him for another start tomorrow against the Springboks in Pretoria.

In much the way Ardie Savea and Richie Mo'unga bumped up their credentials last week, Frizell showed the attributes of an international rugby player.

The message for him tomorrow is simple and one which carried Jerome Kaino through his best years. Go out and do it again.

An ability to find the right mental focus to dominate his role was the signature style for Kaino who, like Frizell, had an abundance of attacking venom but built his game on an unflinching accurate and physical defensive platform.

He owned his piece of the park and that assurance rubbed off on his teammates.

At this fledgling stage of his test development, Frizell has shown similar reliability and has the chance at Loftus Versfeld and beyond in Europe to push into competition with Squire when his injuries heal.


Illness and injury have given the All Black selectors more ideas about their loose forward formations. Deputy No 8 Luke Whitelock's illness took him out of the Buenos Aires test where Savea was very strong and Squire's damage pushed Frizell up another rung - changes which will give Steve Hansen and his panel greater interest in combinations.

It would also offer up a vacancy for Matt Todd as an openside scavenger whose game fits as a very capable specialist understudy to Sam Cane and complements the All Black game-plans.

In an area of the game where the options are deep, a World Cup loose-forward collection of Kieran Read, Savea, Squire, Frizell, Cane and Todd is a powerful group to cover most needs with a handful of capable others on standby.

There's a year to go before those choices are made but only a handful of serious international challenges and for Frizell and others, tomorrow is an audition like no other.