Team performance key for in-form Frizell

Highlanders blindside flanker Shannon Frizell runs the ball ahead while Hurricanes second five...
Highlanders blindside flanker Shannon Frizell runs the ball ahead while Hurricanes second five-eighth Ngani Laumape comes in to close him down in a Super Rugby Aotearoa match at Forsyth Barr Stadium last month.
 

Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell just cannot stop scoring tries, making tackles and breaking the gain line.

Just do not ask him to explain how he does it.

The big Tongan has been in near career-best form this season for the Highlanders.

He was the man of the match against the Chiefs in the nail-biter on Saturday night and has been at that level seemingly all season.

Frizell (27) said every game seemed the same to him. He just went out and did his job and was more worried about the team performance than how he played.

Saturday was not good after the side came up short against the Chiefs in a game which went to golden point.

"The boys were pretty gutted. But this week we go again. Every New Zealand team is going to be hard," Frizell said.

"Yeah I’ve been happy [with my own form] but the team stuff — we have not got right with our plan.

"The Blues is another tough game. Big forwards but we have got a plan to that."

He said the side had not executed its game plan correctly once so was looking to do that against the Blues on Friday night.

Frizell has played 45 games for the Highlanders since joining the franchise from Tasman in 2018.

After a standout rookie year, he was selected for the All Blacks and made his debut against France at his home ground in Dunedin.

He has gone on to make 13 appearances for the All Blacks since 2018, including three games at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

He has a penchant for scoring tries, 17 for the Highlanders to date, but he is not taking any credit. He scored three tries in one game against the Blues in 2018 which turned heads.

"They are all team tries. I have just been on the end of a pass."

He signed a two-year deal last week which will keep him at the Highlanders until 2023.

"It was in the back of my mind about going overseas but in the end it was easy. I like it here. This is the best place to learn, here with the Highlanders.

"I love living in Dunedin, love going fishing and stuff. Love to jump in with some of the boys. Sometimes head to the beach."

He admitted he was now used to the cold water at the beach.

Frizell was born in Tonga and played football when he was young, representing his country at under-17 level. But he switched to rugby when aged 15 and was quickly noticed.

He moved to New Zealand in 2015 and the journey to the black jersey began.

His impressive play will surely see him back into the All Blacks this year but Frizell is not worried about that.

The goal is to get back into the All Blacks but to do that he has to play well for the Highlanders and he is just thinking about the next game.

Frizell returns to Tonga every Christmas and New Year to see family and friends.

His older brother, Tyson, plays rugby league for the Newcastle Knights and has played State of Origin for New South Wales and tests for Australia. The two catch up when they can but there was no trip home to Tonga last December because of Covid-19.

Frizell, the middle of three brothers, said he had sometimes thought about playing league but he was happy where he was with the Highlanders.

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