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The stunning stat that shows the All Blacks are better with Shannon Frizell

By Finn Morton
Shannon Frizell of New Zealand runs the ball during the Rugby Championship test match between New Zealand and South Africa played at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 15, 2023. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

Flanker Shannon Frizell stole the show against the Springboks on Saturday night with a potentially career-defining performance in the All Blacks’ No. 6 jersey.


Starting at blindside flanker for the second week in a row, Frizell was simply brilliant against a physical South African pack.

Lining up opposite loose forwards Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese, Frizell outperformed the formidable Springboks trio with a masterful performance in Auckland.

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The dynamic backrower put on a clinic.

Frizell sent the New Zealand crowd into a frenzy as he ran over Springboks fullback Willie le Roux for the All Blacks’ second try in the 15th minute. By the end of the Test, Frizell had run for more than 40 metres and made 12 tackles.

The New Zealand rugby public has been singing Frizell’s praises since the full-time whistle sounded at the South Auckland venue. Finally, after years of searching, the All Blacks have seemingly found their six.

“If he keeps going like that, that’s exactly what we’re looking for,” former All Black Steven Bates said on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown.

“Consistency will be the key, but he came out of the gate and was a massive part of that first 15, 20 minute onslaught through his carries and through his physicality.


“I think I said after the game, what really impressed me was how smart he played in the jersey,” Just Marshall added. “It’s not just about throwing it on and saying ‘I’m the All Blacks’ 6, I’ll just run hard, and you know me over if you can.’

“He could be devastating, he didn’t gravitate always toward the ruck, the times I saw him pick and go, other times he was a first receiver… he got the balance in his game back on, and he was tough.

“He got great footwork into his carries, it was a great performance.”

Some of the greatest players in All Blacks history have run out in the famous No. 6 jersey.

The late Jerry Collins was an icon of the legendary rugby team for a number of years, and Jerome Kaino was another enforcer who starred alongside inspirational captain Richie McCaw.


But the All Blacks’ search for their next long-term blindside has been both gruelling and frustrating.

Many have tried, but all have failed to cement their place in the starting side. Akira Ioane, Liam Squire and even Scott Barrett have looked to make their mark, but they haven’t been able to make their mark.

Frizell has also been given a number of opportunities, but the Highlanders’ backrower hasn’t been able to win over All Blacks fans or selectors – which is somewhat baffling considering his record.

As dual international Jeff Wilson discussed, Frizell has a 90 per cent winning rate when he starts Test matches at blindside flanker for the All Blacks.

“What significantly changed for Shannon is the fact he’s got significant and consistent game time in the All Blacks jersey,” Wilson said.

“He’s been in the All Blacks for a long, long time, but for a number of reasons he wasn’t able to build back-to-back-to-back games. I think he’s played in the last 12.

“But since he’s been selected at number six his debut, he’s played in only a third of those games. Akira Ioane, Liam Squire has had an opportunity, Ardie’s (Savea) has played there.

“His record when he starts at number six for the All Blacks, just in pure wins and losses, he’s won 18 of his 20 starts when he’s at six… he’s a part of a winning side (and) a winning side brings confidence.

“You see him now in the way he’s playing, he’s controlling and understanding his role and showing some versatility, showing some things.”

The All Blacks may have finally found their long-term successor to Jerome Kaino at blindside flanker. Shannon Frizell was brilliant against both Argentina and South Africa, and has shown no signs of slowing down.


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Tristan 361 days ago

A couple of good games for Frizell yes. However from here it gets harder for him. He has shown he can play to that level and now must do it consistently. NZ has had many great athletes who never really made it as they didn't have the mental edge to be consistently great. That's what set Richie apart. Can Frizell deliver to that level every game? Personally I have not thought so, I would love to be proven wrong.

Andrew 362 days ago

...and he's so keen to continue contributing...that hes off to France once the RWC is over.

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