Eddie Jones’ hopes of handing Brad Shields an England debut on the tour of South Africa have been dashed by New Zealand Rugby (NZR).
Shields has agreed to join Wasps at the end of the current Super Rugby season, with the Hurricanes captain eligible for England as both his parents were born in the country.
It had been reported that Jones would name the back row in his squad for June’s three-Test series against the Springboks, as he did with then-Blues playmaker Piers Francis in Argentina last year.
Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, however, NZR chief executive Steve Tew insisted he had not been approached by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) about Shields’ availability.
“We have had no request from the RFU to release him so it’s news to us,” Tew said.
“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.”
The Hurricanes currently lead the New Zealand conference of Super Rugby, with the final of the competition on Aug. 4.
It is understood England were prepared to pick Shields for the South Africa tour before releasing him back to his club for the resumption of Super Rugby.
Tew, though, suggested that Shields’ case differs to that of Francis as, unlike the Northampton playmaker, the back row is currently contracted to play for New Zealand teams.
“We are obligated to release players who have signed to play for other countries so they have made themselves unavailable for New Zealand,” Tew added.
“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.”