Shields requests to be released for England duty

England want to take New Zealand-born Brad Shields on their tour of South Africa this summer

England want to take New Zealand-born Brad Shields on their tour of South Africa this summer

Brad Shields has made an official request to be released by New Zealand Rugby for England's tour of South Africa in an attempt to smooth a path towards making his debut for Eddie Jones's side in June.

If Shields, who is joining Wasps next season, does go to South Africa he would return to the Hurricanes and play up to six Super Rugby matches before arriving at the Premiership high-flyers.

The NZR chief executive, Steve Tew, confirmed that Shields had made the request and that the union is considering its response.

Jones is keen to select him for the three-Test tour against the Springboks as he looks to find a back-row that can win England the World Cup next year. "We've only just this morning got a formal request to consider releasing Brad".

"He is contracted to New Zealand to the end of Super Rugby".

Shields would essentially rule himself out of New Zealand contention in any case when he joins English side Wasps at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season - as the Kiwis have a policy of not selecting overseas-based players.

NZ Rugby's decision is not likely to take long, Tew said.

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"We have a New Zealand player who is contracted to be here until the end of that competition and that would be our expectation.' Tew was citing 'Schedule Three" - a contract clause signed by all Super Rugby players whose worldwide eligibility has not yet been captured - which states Shields can only play for New Zealand-based teams for the duration of his deal.

"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".

"There's no point not acknowledging that Brad's been a very good servant of the game for a long period of time", he said. "We haven't made a final decision yet".

He added: "We're not going to muck around".

Despite representing New Zealand at the Under-20's level, Shields has never been able to break into a talent-rich national squad at senior level - and sees England as his most likely route to playing global rugby at this point in his career.

New Zealand claim that a clause in Shields' contract - known as Schedule Three - means they do not have to release him to England - reports The Guardian.

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