After being a member of the side that permitted the Aussies to break the long drought against New ZealandConferenceSuper Rugby teams, Shannon Frizell thought he was the target of a practical joke when the Highlander took a phone call informing him that he had been chosen to occupy a spot with the All Blacks.
Frizell took a call from All Blacks leadership manager Gilbert Enoka, who had called not long subsequent to the Highlanders’’ loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.
It turns out that the call was no joke and as any Kiwi rugby player will admit, a call up to the All Blacks is the stuff of dreams.
Frizell had the right to be wary. He would have had to be considered as a long shot to get the call, as he has started only three times in nine appearances in his rookie season of Super Rugby.
He apparently impressed All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen, who in all probability will do as he has done in the past, which is to blood young players when the time is ripe, in order to keep the All Blacks’ pipeline stocked with players that can maintain Kiwi world dominance.
Frizell will most likely see some action in the June Test series with France.
He was thinking he was being pranked because the manager of the Highlanders has been known to engage in a bit of chicanery at times.
“I thought he was joking. Our manager is a joker. But I was so happy,” said Frizell of the moment when the reality began to sink in.
Frizell does have a rugby pedigree. His older brother Tyson stars for the St. George Illawarra Dragons of the NRL.
Shannon Frizell has been plying his trade with the Tasman union. His teammates view his All Blacks selection as something of an expected outcome, especially Highlanders veteran Alex Ainley, who succinctly described Frizell as a “freak,” in the complimentary sense of the word.
Even if he does not get on in the June series with France, he will have the opportunity to run alongside the crème’ de la crème’ and learn what it takes to play with the best in the world.