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Hurricanes recruiting former captain to help fill impending Savea void

By Ned Lester
Brad Shields and Beauden Barrett line up with the Hurricanes pregame. Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Much has been made of the exodus of All Blacks players following this year’s World Cup, the departures of the team’s most tenured professionals is always a challenge for the following World Cup cycle to navigate. But the impact at Super Rugby level will also leave teams in a state of prescribed rebuilding, as the conclusion of 2023 will mark the end of various careers, mostly of those in leadership positions across the five domestic teams.


Replacing talent is one issue, but losing the experience of 84-cap Test veteran Dane Coles and 70-Test powerhouse No 8 Ardie Savea will not just leave a hole in the Hurricanes’ starting XV, but also the side’s leadership group, culture and team identity.

That’s why coach Jason Holland and the Hurricanes are looking to recruit some wise-heads for 2024, in addition to the abundance of young talent coming through the Wellington system.

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Former Hurricanes captain and 8-time England international Brad Shields possesses over 100 caps in Super Rugby, and after an uncertain five years in Europe, the 31-year-old may be on his way back to New Zealand shores to help fill the void left by the departing All Blacks.

“We’ve been talking to Shieldsy,” Holland told media ahead of the Hurricanes’ round five match with Moana Pasifika. “He’s obviously had a niggly time over there with Wasps folding and he’s still in really, really good nick. We’re having chats, so there’s no point denying that.

“He’s always been one of the superstars of our environment and has got a good sense of humour and works really hard. He’s a pretty special player around his physicality, his ability in the carry and the tackle

“All the things we knew of Shieldsy when he was with the Canes all those years ago we’re still seeing in the last six to ninth months at Wasps and Perpignan.

“It’s exciting to get a Hurricane who has been there and done that, and we know is a proud Hurricane, back into the environment.”


Holland’s proactive future proofing looks to put the Hurricanes in good stead for the next World Cup cycle, although the coach himself may not be a part of that era.

The 50-year-old’s contract concludes at the end of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season and rumours around his future have been circling ever since the All Blacks’ series loss to Ireland and the ensuing coaching review. Reports claim Holland was to be a part of Scott Robertson’s coaching crew if the Crusaders mastermind was to have taken over from Ian Foster prior to the 2022 Rugby Championship.

Foster was instead backed to lead the All Blacks through until the 2023 World Cup, only to have his successor (for the 2024-27 cycle) named prematurely, six months out from the tournament. Robertson’s appointment this week restarted the chatter around the future coaching group and Holland’s name was inevitably one of those in circulation.


Holland was open and blunt about his position: “I’ll put it to bed now, I haven’t heard from Razor (Robertson) in the last couple of months. We haven’t spoken about it in the last couple of months so unfortunately I haven’t got anything more for you on that.”


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