Rugby World Cup: All Blacks assistant coach Jason Ryan questions breakdown in Shannon Frizell contract negotiations

All Blacks assistant Jason Ryan has come out swinging at the process that will deprive the national team of one of their most physical weapons under new coach Scott Robertson next season.

Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell cemented his place in the contestable No.6 jersey with a barnstorming display against South African during the Rugby Championship, but has not been sighted on the field over the past month, after suffering a hamstring strain on the eve of departure from New Zealand.

New Zealand have missed his physicality against South Africa and France, in particular, and Ryan looks forward to having Frizell back in contention against Italy next week, as he recovers from his injury.

Jason Ryan & Shannon Frizell.
Jason Ryan & Shannon Frizell. Photo credit: Photosport

He's also fuming that the powerful loose forward has been let slip through the All Blacks' fingers next year, when Frizell turns out for Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan. 

Under NZ Rugby protocols, no player can be selected for the national team from offshore, which will count out several of the current squad who will take up overseas offers after this World Cup.

Frizell's departure obviously hits a raw nerve with the forwards coach, who will be the only member of coach Ian Foster's staff to retain his job under Robertson. He admits he has been in his player's ear about his international future beyond next season.

"I think that could have been done better, to be honest," insists Ryan. "I think Shannon didn't really want to go, so there's a few things going on behind the scenes.

"I think sometimes that contracting stuff can be done a little bit better. He was at a stage, with not making the All Blacks, that something was thrown in front of him without all the facts.

"I'm a big fan of Shannon and he's got a lot of big tests in front of him for the All Blacks, I'm hoping."

Asked to elaborate, Ryan chooses his words carefully. 

"It's probably a mix of everything," he said. "Whenever contracts go in place, there's a mix of coaches, players and agents.

"As I said, his best rugby is all ahead of him... that's probably where I'll leave it."

Frizell claims he is not looking any further beyond the World Cup, as he battles to get back into the starting line-up. All indications are that he, captain Sam Cane, prop Tyrel Lomax and midfielder Jordie Barrett will be available for selection against Italy, barring any further setbacks.

The flanker scored a Lomu-like try against the Springboks, trampling the last defender on his way to the line, before pouncing on a loose ball to score from the opening lineout against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"Any player in good form... that game against South Africa at Mt Smart, he really stood up," reflects Ryan on his absence. "I believe his best test rugby is still ahead of him.

"He's a big six and pretty valuable to our lineout as well. We miss any player that's injured, but the form he was in, it was a bit of a knock for us.

"He's trending in the right direction."