Brad Shields may have already found an Aviva Premiership side
Speculation is mounting that Hurricanes backrower Brad Shields may have already penned a deal with an Aviva Premiership side.
Earlier this week it was widely reported that the English qualified Shields was looking to make the move to the Premiership after he was not involved with the wider All Blacks Rugby Championship squad.
Shields has now been linked with Northampton Saints on a £350,000 a year deal.
Yesterday, Northampton Saints have confirmed that they have found Louis Picamoles’ replacement, but they haven’t revealed who exactly it is.
According to Tom Vicker in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Jim Mallinder has confirmed that they have found his placement, but crucially he won’t arrive until the new year.
The fact that the future number eight won’t arrive until 2018 suggests that is likely he’s playing in the Southern Hemisphere or in the Japanese Top League, which places Shields firmly in the picture. Shields holds an England passport through a parent and could be parachuted straight into the England team.
The versatile backrow can play both blindside and number eight and would help fill the sizeable gap left due to the premature exit of Louis Picamoles.
Lots of Saints news at today's press conference. Jim Mallinder confirmed a new player will be coming to replace Picamoles. Story later…
— Tom Vickers (@WheresTommyV) August 29, 2017
“We have got a long-term replacement for Louis Picamoles, but he won’t be here until the new year,” Jim Mallinder told the Chronicle.
Shields would join fellow New Zealander Teimana Harrison in the backrow at the club.
In the meantime they have re-signed 6’5, 114kg Sam Dickinson. Veteran backrow Dickinson had been released by the club at the end of last season, but he returns on a short term deal.
At the end of May Saints reluctantly allowed the barnstorming Picamoles to return to France on a significant ‘transfer fee’.
A statement from the Saints at the time read: “Louis Picamoles will be leaving the club to rejoin Montpellier, his first professional club, as the French Federation now wants its internationals to be playing in the Top 14.
“The 31-year-old has received a proposal from Montpellier which will underpin the future financial stability for his family.
“The club has therefore reluctantly agreed to the transfer and accepted a significant transfer fee for his services. This fee will be reinvested into the playing squad to ensure Northampton Saints continues to strive for success on the pitch. To achieve this, we are looking to further strengthen the squad with new signings in addition to the world-class talent already confirmed for 2017/18.
“The Saints’ management would like to thank Louis for his contribution to this season and wish him all the best for the future.”
Picamoles, who spent seven years with Toulouse before joining Northampton on a three-year deal in 2016, added: “I am proud to have played for Northampton Saints and I have enjoyed my time with the club.
“I am grateful for all the support and friendship I have received from the club, the coaches, my team mates and supporters.”
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