Brad Shields has handed in a formal request to be released from his NZRU contract early so that he can be selected by England for the upcoming tour to South Africa.
Shields will be playing his rugby for Wasps next season and the Hurricanes man qualifies for England as his parents were born there.
Eddie Jones has been given the green light by the RFU to select Shields for the upcoming Test matches against the Springboks which is away from their policy of not selecting players who ply their trade abroad. Jones sees Shields as a key component of his back-row going forward so he is keen to get him familiar with the England setup as soon as possible.
The only roadblock is the NZRU, who have to grant permission for Shields to be selected by England in the middle of the Super Rugby season. The Hurricanes will have a number of regular season fixtures after the June tour in addition to playoff games which they will likely qualify for.
According to The NZ Herald, NZRU boss Steve Tew said:
“We’ve only just this morning got a formal request to consider releasing Brad.
“He’s contracted to New Zealand until the end of Super Rugby [in August].”
England are perfectly entitled to selected Shields under current regulations and if the NZRU prove to stop this from happening, World Rugby may have to get involved.
“The World Rugby regulations don’t apply per se because he’s committed himself to New Zealand,” said Tew.
“But he is a long-standing and loyal servant of the game and has put a request in.
“We’re looking at that and are considering the ramifications of releasing him to England in the middle of a competition he is committed to. We haven’t made a final decision yet.
“We’re not going to muck around. There’s no point in taking weeks when he and England need a decision faster than that.”