Hurricanes loose forward Brad Shields will be available for England’s Test series against the Springboks in June after being released by New Zealand Rugby.
NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said while NZR believed there were clear legal grounds to decline a release request made by Shields’ agent and the (English) RFU, NZR considered the exceptional circumstances in this case.
‘Our contract agreement requires Brad to be available for only New Zealand teams until the end of his term, which expires at the end of this year’s Super Rugby season,’ Lendrum said.
‘Having said that, Brad has been an exceptional leader inside the Hurricanes environment and a loyal servant to New Zealand Rugby.
‘We have taken some time to carefully work through the complexities of this request, to ensure that we gave appropriate consideration to his specific circumstances. In the end, we are happy with the terms of his temporary release.
‘We are extremely disappointed that the RFU chose to take this unusual step in seeking this release, given that Brad has not yet played rugby in England.
‘We are releasing Brad with our best wishes, and we hope to see him achieve his goal of playing international rugby in June.’
Shields, who qualifies to play for England through his parents, said: ‘I’m really appreciative that New Zealand Rugby has considered my request. I know it’s been a complex matter for them but I’m hugely grateful for their support on this.’
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