Steve Hansen said Brad Shields would probably have been included in the New Zealand squad if he had not pledged his allegiance to England.
Hurricanes captain Shields – who will join Wasps once he has completed his Super Rugby commitments – is set to make his Test debut on England’s tour of South Africa next month.
The flanker opted to turn his back on his homeland to start his international career, but All Blacks head coach Hansen claims he could have been lining up for the world champions after naming his 33-man squad to face France in June.
“It is obviously one of those positions… he probably would have made this team this year,” Hansen told Newstalk ZB.
“I wish him all the best. He wants to play Test rugby, he obviously didn’t see a future here.
“Straight away Jerome Kaino retired, Reado [Kieran Read] is injured, Liam Squire hasn’t played a lot of rugby this year. The six-eight role has become a focus for us this year.
“That’s the thing about the All Blacks – you’ve got to stay resilient because you are always up against someone else as good if not a little better. If you are not prepared to wait for the opportunity and keep working at it you are not going to get it.
“That’s my point to the people who have missed out today – we used 54 players last year and we won’t just use 33 this year.
“Someone will get an opportunity and if they mentally stay in the game, stay in the fight through being resilient with how they prepare and how they play on game day, they will get that opportunity.”
Uncapped trio Jordan Taufua, Shannon Frizell and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi were included in the New Zealand squad to take on Les Bleus in a three-Test series.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta