England to pick Shields regardless
Brad Shields will be picked for England in June regardless of New Zealand Rugby’s protests, according to the Rugby Football Union.
The Hurricanes forward is set to move to Wasps at the completion of his Super Rugby contract, and is eligible to represent England in international rugby.
But with a contract in New Zealand, through New Zealand Rugby, the national body believes he is eligible for New Zealand and does not need to be released for England’s series against South Africa.
RFU chief executive Steve Brown believes World Rugby rules come into play, meaning he will have to be released for England despite Steve Tew’s insistence his NZ Rugby contract comes first.
The Times reported that Brown is banking on World Rugby regulation nine, which states all players must be released for international matches.
‘‘Regulation nine is clear and understood by everybody,’’ Brown told The Times.
‘‘If we find ourselves in that situation we will rely on the World Rugby regulation.’’
NZR chief executive Tew, though, believes ‘‘the World Rugby regulations don’t apply per se because he’s committed himself to New Zealand’’.
The situation is in contrast to that of current England forward James Haskell, who looks like being frozen out of the national set-up because he is leaving England.
Haskell is leaving Wasps, largely because Shields is coming in, and hasn’t received any offers in English rugby.
RFU rules are much like those in New Zealand. To play for the national team, you must play in England. Because Haskell looks like moving abroad, he won’t be selected.
The rules do allow for Shields to play, however, because he has committed to an English club.
Shields said before the Hurricanes’ win over the Sunwolves at the weekend that he was trying his best not to think of whether New Zealand Rugby would allow Eddie Jones to pick him.
’’I haven’t heard anything yet. It’s out of my control and my focus is on the game this week, and has been for the last couple of weeks. All I need to worry about is playing good rugby and whatever happens from here is out of my control,’’ Shields said on Thursday.
Shields is available to play for England due to his parentage. He could’ve sat tight until his move to Wasps, but has instead sought a dispensation from NZR to be selected by England in June.
‘‘It’s about opportunity. If I can play some good footy and be available to whatever’s coming up and put my name forward as much as I can, then hopefully things crop up.
Shields insists he hasn’t talked to England coach Jones and that he won’t be swayed to stick with New Zealand, if the All Blacks belatedly came calling.
‘‘I’m heading off after Super Rugby. That was the opportunity that presented itself last year and [I felt I] needed try something knew and that’s how the road’s gone for me and I’m pretty happy with where it’s heading.
‘‘When I signed over in England [playing test rugby] was obviously part of the plans.
‘‘As a player, your goal is always to play at that next level and that’s my goal and always has been.’’
Brad Shields is the subject of a bizarre tugo-war between England and New Zealand.