All Black's promotion comes via text

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2012
Brad Shields
ANDREW GORRIE/FAIRFAX NZ

Brad Shields, left, with fellow Hurricanes Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea celebrate their first-time callup to the All Blacks training squad, ahead of tests against Ireland.

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Thankfully texting at the dinner table is not considered an atrocity in the Shields family.

So it was that a beaming Brad Shields, staring at his phone at Wellington's Monsoon Poon restaurant on Sunday night, was encouraged to share the text with his parents, Nigel and Danielle, and younger brother, Nick.

Even if the Hurricanes loose forward was baffled by the message just after 8pm, summoning him to the All Blacks' wider training squad.

"The first text said, 'Brad, can you confirm your number. Darren Shand, All Black manager'. I was 'oh jeez, it must be important, or it's a joke'. I thought 'wait and see', but another text came through, then an email, and it became more real," Shields said yesterday, as he and fellow uncapped Hurricanes Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea celebrated their callups at Rugby League Park.

Shields felt he'd already had a blinder by shouting his parents and brother for dinner on Mother's Day. The sports-mad family (his 19-year-old brother is a national handball rep) were then floored by what followed.

"I was pretty stoked. I showed my dad the text and he started smiling then I looked at my mum and she was saying 'what, what', wanting to know, then I showed her. It was awesome.

"It was a huge surprise. I didn't think I was in the mix as such. I'll take it, I guess. There was a bit of shock but I was happy at the same time. It was a weird feeling, now I'm just excited."

The former deputy head boy and sporting star at Taita College was rightly stunned, having played only limited minutes for the Hurricanes but impressed with some robust efforts off the bench. A member of the world champion New Zealand under-20s last year, alongside Barrett, Shields starred for Wellington in the NPC and comfortably looked the part in Super Rugby.

He had some contact with All Black coach Steve Hansen but no hint about his selection. Now he will joust with the likes of Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson and Canes team-mate Victor Vito at the two camps in Auckland and Wellington, hoping to make the next step to the 30-man squad for the Ireland tests next month.

It will be more of the same from Shields, a physical, abrasive approach that grabbed Hansen's attention.

Savea, meanwhile, could be the beneficiary of Richard Kahui's dislocated shoulder and be fast-tracked into the All Blacks No 11 jersey. As scorer of the match-winning try against the Highlanders on Saturday, the block-busting Savea edged out Zac Guildford and Hosea Gear on form in the extended squad, according to Hansen.

The man himself, who received Shand's text at his aunty's house on Sunday, said self-belief was the key.

"Last year I made a lot of errors and I think just lost my confidence. This year I've worked really hard to get my fitness up and be able to do a lot more work around the field and that's given me a lot more confidence."

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It was a double celebration in the Savea house, with younger brother Ardie helping the New Zealand sevens team to win their 10th world series title in London.

There were six Hurricanes included: Shields, Savea, Barrett, Vito, Cory Jane and captain Conrad Smith, while halfback TJ Perenara (to Tawera Kerr-Barlow) and fullback Andre Taylor (to Ben Smith) were considered unlucky.

Related stories:

Taylor hopes to impress selectors

Savea brothers have double success

Hurricanes players get All Blacks call-up

Opinion: Hansen picked fresh squad

twitter Follow Hurricanes news on Twitter @dp_hurricanes

- The Dominion Post

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