Experienced loose-forward and Hurricanes centurion Brad Shields has today been confirmed as captain of the Hurricanes ahead of their 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
He will be supported by Asafo Aumua and Jordie Barrett, who have been named as vice-captains for 2024.
Shields, who played 103 games for the Hurricanes between 2012 and 2018, before heading offshore to pursue a test career with England, signed with the Hurricanes last year, eyeing a return for this season.
He takes over the reins from 2023 captain Ardie Savea who departed for Japan this season.
The captain’s tag is a title the 32-year-old is not unfamiliar with, having led the Hurricanes in their 31-all draw against the British and Irish Lions in 2017, and then taking on the role for the entire 2018 season.
Shields said he is honoured to be given the captain’s armband for 2024, but it is a role he will lean on many of his experienced teammates for support.
“I’m hugely excited and honoured to be leading the Hurricanes this season,” said Shields.
“I admit, after Clarky (Clark Laidlaw) told me I was really stoked, but I did feel a little apprehensive given I had been away for a few years and the quality of leadership we have at the Hurricanes. But at the end of the day, it’s a massive challenge and opportunity I’m excited for, and what makes it more exciting is there is a handful of guys here with so much experience who I know I will turn to for support. We’ll all work together with this one.”
Hurricane #184 said he intends to lead by his actions this season which he hopes will bring out the best out of a young Hurricanes team, and Hurricanes fans.
“Actions. Always by actions is how I like to lead,” said Shields.
“I really want to challenge our environment because challenge always brings better performances. We’ve got a really young team this season so anywhere I can help and encourage and bring the best out of some of the young guys, and the players who have been here for a while, is what I aim for.
“The one thing that’s massive for us at the Hurricanes is connection within our community. Ultimately, we’ve got to play good rugby and perform really well if we want bums on seats, but it certainly means a lot to know we’ve got our community behind us, and we’ll do everything we can to give them a good service and make 2024 an exciting and enjoyable season to watch.”
Having an abundance of experienced leaders in this Hurricanes side didn’t make the captaincy decision an easy one for Hurricanes Head Coach Clark Laidlaw.
However, Laidlaw said he and the other coaches were impressed with Shields’ attitude the moment he stepped back into camp and became an obvious choice as the right man to lead the side.
“The coaches and I do a lot of observing around leadership of the team, and it became reasonably apparent that we have several players that want to lead which is really exciting,” said Laidlaw.
“But with Brad, he leads really well every day. He’s a great role model around how we want to train; he’s competitive as hell; he’s won Super Rugby; he’s a test match player; he’s bigger and stronger than he’s been before; and he knows what it takes to win and to lead. So, at the end of the day, he became an obvious choice.
“One of the best things about Brad is that he wants to be better. That’s an important trait to have as a leader as it rubs off on everyone else. We as coaches want our captain to represent what we want the team to look like. And we felt with Brad’s experience and his maturity, he’s the right man to lead us forward for this season.”
Laidlaw also echoed Shields’ comments on looking to his teammates for support this season.
“Brad will lead the side, but we do have a number of other players with Asafo and Jordie, who are going to be vice-captains of the team, and our leadership group will support Brad and help the coaches this season.”