Hurricanes' Brad Shields talks final Super season, move to Wasps

Brad Shields Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

A Hurricane through and through, Brad Shields says his pending move north to English club Wasps represents the fresh challenge he needs at this point of his career.

Shields' decision to abandon New Zealand Rugby and set his sights on a potential Test career with England was one of the bigger talking points in the rugby-mad nation, given his perceived proximity to an All Blacks call-up.

But that is no longer in the stars, and Shields' arrival in Coventry later this year is likely to be followed even more closely now given England's three straight losses and eventual fifth-place finish in this year's Six Nations.

Shields wouldn't be drawn into prolonged discussions about his decision, but it's clear he's seeking a fresh challenge after a distinguished 69-game career at the Hurricanes.

"I think just change, I love the Hurricanes and I'd love to spend the rest of my career here but I think it's time," Shields told ESPN. "And it's going to be an exciting adventure for my family and myself. My parents are over there, so playing in front of my mum and dad ... but just something different, that's probably the most exciting thing, a fresh challenge."

England fans hoping to catch a glimpse of what Shields may potentially bring to Eddie Jones' squad -- the back-rower indicated earlier this year he'd had some contact with the Australian -- should turn on this week's New Zealand derby with the Highlanders.

The Highlanders, first on the NZ ladder, are the only unbeaten team in Super Rugby while the Hurricanes are fresh having had the Round 5 bye preceded by back-to-back wins. The most recent of those was an impressive 28-17 victory over the Crusaders -- whom the Highlanders themselves last week -- built on an impressive opening half hour which Shields says holds the key to his side going deep into the Super Rugby season.

"I think one of the main things is that if we front physically and we stick to our structures, and we're patient, then things happen for us," Shields told ESPN. "It's a bit of a cliché but, like most teams, if you go out of your system then that's when you tend to beat yourself up a little bit.

"So for us, I think turning up physically and right at the start; sometimes it takes us a little while to get into the games. But if we can really nail the first 20 or 30 minutes, then we know how to close games out now and we know how to play for 80 minutes. That's our strength, I feel.

"We just need to start really well and that Crusaders game was obviously a tough match because it's like a Test match when you're playing those Kiwi teams; so yeah just a good start and trying to hold onto it, and playing the way we want to play."

While Shields is one of the Hurricanes' favourite sons, he'll certainly be playing second fiddle when it comes to the locals fans as halfback T.J. Perenara notches his 100th Super Rugby appearance in the yellow and black.

Just two weeks after Beauden Barrett reached the same milestone, the Hurricanes will again run onto Westpac Stadium with added motivation for victory.

"Yeah, they're obviously pretty humble guys and they want as less fuss as possible," Shields said. "But this is obviously a massive milestone for them and a massive milestone for the club; to play 100 games, we don't take it very lightly. We obviously talk about playing well and putting a performance on and wanting to win, and doing them a justice.

On what he loves about playing alongside Perenara, Shields added: "He's pretty energetic and he knows the game inside and out. He's the type of guy who just works and works and works, and he'll have the same energy minute one as he will in minute 80.

"He's a really smart player and he loves the chat, and that's what we need from our halfback. And it's really constructive [chat] as well; it's not just a whole lot of jabber. He'll back it up with performance as well. That's what I love about him; he likes to express himself but at the same time he's really good at revving the boys up."

Shields is a superb pickup for Wasps, given his superb form from the past few seasons, and the potential point of difference he could bring to England's back-row will no doubt make Jones a keen spectator once the 26-year-old Kiwi does arrive at the Ricoh Stadium later this year.

For the man himself however, it's all about the here and now.

"It's a funny one because every game I sort of go out there and treat it as my last," Shields told ESPN. "But you want to go out there on the day and do as much as you can for the team and put your hand up and just nail your role. I just take it week by week and whatever happens at the end of the season is going to happen in good time."