Hurricanes loose forward Brad Shields has requested a release from his New Zealand Rugby contract to play for England against the Springboks this June.
The New Zealand Herald reports that NZ Rugby has received a formal request from Shields. While nothing is confirmed as yet, it’s believed that Shields will indeed be granted an early release and will have the opportunity to tour South Africa with England this June.
Thereafter, Shields will return to New Zealand to fulfill his Super Rugby commitments with the Hurricanes. The loose forward will move on to English club Wasps at the conclusion of the 2018 Super Rugby tournament.
‘We’ve only just this morning got a formal request to consider releasing Brad,’ New Zealand chief executive officer Steve Tew said on Friday. ‘He’s contracted to New Zealand until the end of Super Rugby and so the World Rugby regulations don’t apply per se because he’s committed himself to New Zealand, 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.’
Tew suggested that NZ Rugby is unlikely to prevent Shields from pursuing an opportunity of this nature. Shields is not in the All Blacks mix, but clearly wants to play Test rugby.
NZ Rugby looks set to make the call sooner rather than later.
‘There’s no point in not acknowledging that Brad has been a very, very good servant of the game for a long period of time,’ said Tew. ‘If he had been picked for the All Blacks we wouldn’t be having this conversation but he hasn’t made that cut and is now taking a different direction.
‘We’re not going to muck around. There’s no point in taking weeks when he and England need a decision faster than that.’
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