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Tug of war.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) are set to go to war over Hurricanes flanker Brad Shields this summer.
Shields is set to join Wasps next season, with Eddie Jones looking to fast track the Hurricanes captain into his England squad this June, with the back-row eligible immediately through his parents.
The Telegraph has reported that the RFU have cleared the way for Jones to pick Shields this June, despite still being based in New Zealand. But the NZRU are now set to block the move.
“We have had no request from the RFU to release him so it’s news to us,” NZR executive Steve Tew said on Wednesday
“I don’t think you can jump to the conclusion that he is available from our point of view. He is signed to New Zealand and he is contract to play for New Zealand teams until the end of Investec Super Rugby.”
NZR is obliged to release players for the international window in June if it is in the players’ contracts, but Tew said that was not relevant in this case because Shields’ contract made him available for New Zealand team.
“We are obligated to release players who have signed to play for other countries so they have made themselves unavailable for New Zealand. We always make sure that occurs and that is of particular relevance to the Pacific countries. But in this instance, Brad has signed a contract that makes him available for New Zealand teams.”
England now look set to challenge New Zealand, with World Rugby potentially set to get involved.
It has been suggested Shields could play for England against the Springboks in June, then return to play for the Hurricanes to see out the Super Rugby season. But Tew’s comments have cast serious doubt.