Brad Shields refuses to believe New Zealand are unbeatable ahead of England's Quilter International meet with them at Twickenham on Saturday.
England haven’t beaten the world champions since 2012, when they scored three tries en route to a 38-21 triumph. It’s a performance Eddie Jones’ men will have to emulate on Saturday in order to win, and Shields believes it’s possible.
“What you see with New Zealand is what you get: they love unstructured play and are pretty dangerous from all areas of the park. Everyone knows that,” the 27-year-old added.
“Anyone can beat anyone. They are the benchmark of world rugby at the moment, they have a great track record, but there is always someone who is going to come along and do a job.
“We are really looking forward to the challenge this weekend and hopefully we can put in a performance that we are really proud of, and come away with a good result.”
All 12 of England's points from last weekend’s win over South Africa came via the boots of Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly respectively, but against a side who have bagged 67 tries in 11 games this year, Shields does not think that method of scoring alone can topple the All Blacks.
“We are going to have to be aware of threats; New Zealand like to play with speed, so we are going to have to meet that with some physicality and slow the ball down,” he explained. “One thing you have to do against the All Blacks is you have to score tries to win, so a big focus for us has to be getting across the line.”
Shields is well-versed in the Kiwi style of play; having won the World Rugby U20 Championship with the Baby Blacks in 2011, he went on to captain Super Rugby side The Hurricanes, playing alongside current All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea. “They're a quality outfit but we are a quality outfit as well..."
“They are just exciting players,” said Shields of the duo. “They have a bit of talent and they are great x-factor players so we are going to have our hands full, but every week there are always different challenges, and we have to make sure we tie up some of their most lethal guys otherwise it gives them access to the game.”
If included in head coach Jones’ squad for the weekend, Shields would be in line for his fourth Test cap, and the Wasps back rower is excited by the possibility of lining up in front of 80,000 fans at Twickenham once more.
“If I get the opportunity I’m just going to go out there and play rugby like I’ve been trying to do for the last 10 years, and do my best for the squad, because that is all that really matters,” he added.
“They are a quality outfit but we are a quality outfit as well, and we’re going out there to play our best footy at the weekend.”