Moody unable to give green Shields stamp of approval

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Lewis Moody is critical of Eddie Jones’ decision to take Brad Shields to South Africa due to the disincentivising impact it will have on aspiring England flankers.

Shields will link up with Jones’ squad on Sunday having travelled from New Zealand, where he must complete his Super Rugby commitments before joining Wasps in time for next season.

The 27-year-old has yet to be tested in the Aviva Premiership yet is preferred ahead of back rows such as Don Armand, who has enjoyed an outstanding season for Exeter.

Moody, the former England captain who amassed 74 caps including three for the British and Irish Lions, is uncomfortable with his selection for the series against the Springboks that starts on Saturday week.

“I know the professional game is changing, but picking Shields doesn’t sit well for me at all,” said Moody, speaking on behalf of Land Rover.

“He’s a Kiwi who has played all of his rugby in New Zealand. When it was felt that the All Blacks weren’t going to work for him, another avenue opened up.

“If he’d spent a couple of years in the Premiership earning his stripes, that would sit better with me.

“Eddie is able to pick him and he has done, but it’s discouraging for the English flankers who have come through the system here.”

Shields will contest the number six jersey held by Chris Robshaw and on the other side of the scrum Jones is looking for a traditional openside in the belief that the changing emphasis of the game has made a fetcher necessary.

Highly-impressive 19-year-old Tom Curry is likely to fill the role against South Africa, adding to the solitary cap he won in Argentina last year – and Moody is excited by his emergence.

“I have to admit I’m not entirely sure what Eddie is looking for in the back row,” Moody said.

“To start with he was looking for an out and out seven, Matt Kvesic was that option but he was never really given an opportunity.

“If there’s a need for an out and out seven, then bear in mind we’ve only produced two others in the last 20 or 30 years – Neil Back and Andy Robinson.

“But what a young talent Tom Curry is and he needs to be nurtured and given the right environment to thrive in.

“He was capped in Argentina playing against hard men. It’s a partisan environment there so he has experience of that now, which will only help him in South Africa where he’ll come up against enormous human beings who just want to batter a young man into submission to see if he’s made of the right stuff.

“He brings athleticism, playing ability and nous over the ball. You want to see a young player take his opportunity and Tom did that in Argentina and you want to see it happen again.”

* Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has this year celebrated its testimonial season of supporting grassroots rugby in the UK. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal

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