Eng­land to pick Shields re­gard­less

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - STUFF RE­PORTERS

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.’’

GETTY IM­AGES

Brad Shields is the sub­ject of a bizarre tugo-war be­tween Eng­land and New Zealand.

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