Brad Shields has officially requested that he be released by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) for England’s summer tour to South Africa.
England coach Eddie Jones wants Shields to be made available for the three-Test series against the Springboks in June, with World Rugby regulations permitting his selection even midway through the Super Rugby season.
Wasps-bound Shields, 27, who qualifies for England through his parents, would then return to New Zealand to complete the Hurricanes’ campaign before beginning his spell in the Aviva Premiership.
NZR chief executive Steve Tew had revealed he was considering blocking the forward’s involvement in South Africa, but now appears to be in a more accommodating mood.
“We’ve only just this morning got a formal request to consider releasing Brad,” Tew told the New Zealand Herald.
“World Rugby regulations don’t apply per se because he’s committed himself to New Zealand, but he is a long-standing and loyal servant of the game and has put a request in.
“There’s no point in not acknowledging that Brad has been a very, very good servant of the game for a long period of time.
“If he had been picked for the All Blacks we wouldn’t be having this conversation but he hasn’t made that cut and is now taking a different direction.
“We’re not going to muck around. There’s no point in taking weeks when he and England need a decision faster than that.”