New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has decided it will, by special exception, release Hurricanes loose forward Brad Shields from the obligations of his contract, to be available for selection for England next month.
New Zealand Rugby 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 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 Investec 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.”
Brad Shields 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.”