JOHANNESBURG - New Zealand-born loose forward Brad Shields insists he is as English as "chip butties" ahead of his run-on debut Saturday against South Africa in Bloemfontein.
"My grandparents were extremely English and passed on a lot of heritage like 'chip butties' (chip sandwiches)," Shields said ahead of the second match in a three-Test series with South Africa leading 1-0. Shields qualifies for England because his parents were born there.
"The regulations offered me an opportunity to play for England and I decided to make the most of it. Obviously, I am totally committed because if I did not want to represent England I would not be here. I was so proud to make my debut off the bench in Johannesburg last weekend and now I get a chance to play from the start. The English jersey means everything to me. I am out to prove that I am completely committed to the English cause."
Shields is leaving Wellington Hurricanes at the end of the Super Rugby season to join English Premiership outfit Wasps. The selection of Shields angered senior Rugby World official and former Argentina star Agustin Pichot.
"Something is missing," he tweeted in Spanish recently, adding in English: "We are losing something, the game is losing something." Pichot previously said: "When you have players who have not lived in the country they represent, it is not great."
"They're working hard to make sure we win the next game."
Eddie talks Shields, Cipriani, and preparation for Saturday's Test in Bloemfontein 🌹
➡ https://t.co/CoRdxPa4Ho #WearTheRose pic.twitter.com/cffHSUuoY0
Shields replaces former captain Chris Robshaw, who was ditched for the first time by coach Eddie Jones since he succeeded Stuart Lancaster two years ago. "Chris was very disappointed, but not overly surprised. He is a very hard taskmaster and knew that he has not been in great form," Jones said.
"We are trying to find out why. Hopefully we will get him right for the third Test. Most definitely, he will come back from this. The door has not been closed as players go through ups and downs just like teams. Chris accepts the situation and accepts that he will have to do some work to get back into the side. I'm sure he will do that."
England lost a dramatic first Test 42-39 after leading by 21 points after 18 minutes and must triumph Saturday to have a chance of a first series win in South Africa. The Springboks have won three of the previous five series against the English in the republic and drawn two.