Coronavirus: Kiwi Brad Shields helps vulnerable elderly in UK by calling isolated fans

New Zealand-born England International Brad Shields is doing his bit to assist during the coronavirus epidemic, by reaching out to the most vulnerable.

Shields' English club side Wasps have launched the #makethatcall movement, which sees players ring up fans in isolation simply to have a chat and offer support.

In the UK, people over the age of 70 may be asked to self-isolate for up to four months to protect themselves from COVID-19, which means millions are trapped in their homes. 

Coventry-based Wasps are currently locked out of training facilities with the England Premiership suspended for another month at least, and Shields said the team discussed ways they could stay in touch with their supporters while there is no rugby on. 

"So we thought, and some of the guys in the offices put their heads together and in consultation with a few of the players, about doing something nice for people and some of our fans," Shields told Sky Sports UK.

"So some of our fans who are in isolation or a little bit lonely, we wanted to give back by giving them a call to see how they're going, try and make their day a little bit and give them a bit of a smile.

"Because we know how tough it's going to be. We've only been at home for a couple of days but some people could be at home for the next three or four weeks. It's quite a tough time."

One supporter Shields has been in contact with is Terry, who will not be able to celebrate his 70th birthday with family this weekend.

Terry told BBC 5 Live Breakfast that Shields put a big smile on his face.

"It was pretty surreal. I answered the phone and there's this bloke singing happy birthday to me and it's an England rugby player," he said.

"It's such a good thing they're doing to keep in contact with the fans. Even though I'm shut away at home it's good to keep communicating."

Other top-flight clubs are now following suit, including Leicester Tigers and Gloucester, while Wasps Netball players are also checking in on fans.

Shields is one of many New Zealand-born rugby players in the UK who has been asked to take a 25 percent pay cut with play currently suspended.

"It's a pretty unique situation." Shields told Sky Sports UK. "It's not just rugby, it's not just sport that's been affected by this.

"It's small businesses, it's big businesses, it's employees all over the country that it's starting to affect, which is really tough.

Hopefully we can come back out on the other side and all work together, but i'd imagine it's going to be really tough for some people."

Last month, Shields shaved off his well-known beard to raise money for mental health, bringing in more than £3000 (NZ$6000).