Shannon Frizell’s home-coming couldn’t have been scripted any better.
Playing on the home pitch of his club side Marist and his provincial union Tasman, the All Black blindside flanker put in a man-of-the-match performance in the 46-24 All Blacks win.
In front of 21,040 fans, Frizell had a storming first forty minutes, making several strong carries, his second surging break setting the hosts up for their first try through Nehe Milner-Skudder.
The flanker was immense, carrying the ball 16 times as the All Blacks top metre-eater. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Frizell was superb in just his second test start.
“We lost a lot of players early, so we couldn’t be anything but extremely happy with him.”
He says they did not plan to give the 108kg Frizell the full 80 minutes.
“At one point I didn’t think he would get there but he found another wind, I think he can be pretty satisfied, he has got a big future.”
While Shannon shone, it was hardly a perfect performance from the men in black.
During the week leading up to the game, Nelson had thrown out the welcome mat for the All Blacks, but the city’s hospitality towards the team off the pitch this week didn’t extend to their time on it, with three star players forced from the field with injury in the first ten minutes.
Brodie Retallick, Ben Smith and Ngani Laumape all left the field early, with only Smith to return after passing a concussion test.
That, combined with a fierce Argentine performance, made for some uncomfortable moments for the All Blacks, their first test in the city that gave birth to the sport in this country.
Aside from the historic nature of the test venue, the game may well be remembered for the All Blacks ability to counter-punch. Each time the Pumas scored the All Blacks were quick to hit back and it became the defining theme of the game.
Steve says the Argentina side stretched his team.
“They (the Pumas) played particularly well, we had to show a lot of mental fortitude but every time they scored we came back which was pleasing.”
Frizell capped off a memorable performance with a first test try in the 73rd minute to a rapturous ovation from his home fans.
“I was so stoked, I can’t explain how stoked I am to be home.”
Steve says the All Blacks’ week in Nelson was been an incredibly enjoyable one.
“It’s been great, the weather is tremendous and the park is fantastic.”
Steve says Trafalgar is one of the better pitches they have played on.
All Blacks 46: Nehe Milner-Skudder, TJ Perenara (2), Kieran Read, Shannon Frizzell, Jack Goodhue. Richie Mo’unga (2 pen, 5 con).
Argentina 24: Ramiro Moyao (try), Nicolas Sanchez (1 try, 3 cons, 1 penalty), Emiliano Boffelli.