Do not write off the All Blacks – Brad Shields

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Northern hemisphere nations enjoyed a rare November of dominance over southern sides this year. The All Blacks lost to Ireland and France.

 

But Shields told The Rugby Paper people needed to stop and take a breath.

 

"Everyone goes through difficult patches, and it is about emerging from them stronger. England, Ireland and Australia have all been through them recently, and it is how you build," he said.

 

"The All Blacks have their sights on the World Cup and have given new guys game time. They will come out of the tour the better for it."

 

Shields' international aspirations with England may have stalled, but it hasn't stopped him from making his mark in the Premiership with Wasps.

 

Shields missed the 2019 Rugby World Cup through injury, and the 30-year-old hasn't been part of Eddie Jones' thinking for England since.

 

With Wasps hit by injuries to senior players, Shields has stepped up to be a key figure in the side.

 

Wasps' coach Lee Blackett said, "My advice to any young kid would be to watch Brad Shields and follow him.

 

"He gives absolutely everything in training and in matches, the first in and the last to leave."

 

Shields has not dwelt on non-selection for England.

 

"I would imagine that playing international rugby is the goal of every player. I do not let it get in the way because, first and foremost, I have to play well for Wasps. Anything else is a bonus.

 

"If you get too caught up in the next step, it will affect your performances. You do not want to play poorly for your club, your bread and butter. If you are going well, opportunity opens up, and we are building towards a really good thing here," he said.

 

Shields didn't have the best of starts with Wasps. He broke his cheekbone in his debut for the club. But once recovered, he was quick to make his mark.

 

"What stood out quickly was that the weather dictates the way the game is played here.

 

"It creates a different mindset in teams, and more are set-piece oriented than in New Zealand, but what I like about Wasps is that we have built a good group culturally, and it is getting better and better.

 

"It is an inclusive environment, and it is not a place where players feel they cannot speak up.

 

"We have been missing some key components this season, but we have an environment where we are demanding of each other, and we have not used injuries as an excuse.

 

"We pride ourselves on how hard we work off the ball and it does not matter who is playing. It is all about channelling leadership in the right direction and what we have found is that the depth in our squad is pretty good," he said.

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