Shields released to play for England

by AAP

New Zealand Rugby has released flanker Brad Shields from his contract obligations, making him available for selection for England in June.

In a statement, NZ Rugby said it had made an exception for the Hurricanes captain, who had sought a release in conjunction with the England's Rugby Football Union.

Three weeks after the request, NZ Rugby has relented.

Its head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said there were clear legal grounds to turn Shields down if they wished.

"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 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."