DURBAN (Reuters) - Controversial England selection Brad Shields has added an extra element to the squad on their tour of South Africa, new team mate Chris Robshaw said.
New Zealand-born Shields has opted to pursue an international career with England, for whom he qualifies through his parents, in a move that has drawn considerable criticism, even from World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot.
The Wellington Hurricanes flanker was granted a special release by New Zealand Rugby to join England’s squad for the three-test tour before he moves to Wasps later this year.
“We’ve only got to know him over the last day or so but he is hungry to learn,” Robshaw said of Shields at a news conference ahead of Saturday’s first test in Johannesburg.
Shields, 27, arrived in South Africa directly from New Zealand, a day after the rest of the touring party came in from London.
“He has brought something new and is trying to soak it all in, whether it’s line-outs, scrum play or whatever it be, so he is ready,” Robshaw added.
“That’s what you want from players, that hunger and excitement to be involved.”
Robshaw was captain of the England squad that last toured South Africa in 2012 where they lost the series with two test defeats and a draw. The second test at Ellis Park was a 36-27 win for the Springboks.
“We weren’t as ready as we hoped we were, we allowed them to get momentum and we were playing catch up the whole game. This time around we have to meet that head on in the first minute,” the 32-year-old said.
“Bar Twickenham, Ellis Park is the best rugby stadium I have ever played at due to the intensity it brings, the atmosphere and the passion levels.
“We are looking forward to it, we are under no illusions about how hard it is going to be, and we have spoken about how hard it is to go there and be successful.”
“It is all about this series, we know we’ve had to address some things from the Six Nations which we’ve hopefully fixed, but for us to come down here it is about winning the series - that’s what our mindset is,” he added.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge