Hurricanes captain Brad Shields was included in the England squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) reluctantly granted him an early release from the contract with the Super Rugby club.
Shields' contract with Hurricanes runs through the end of the ongoing Super Rugby season following which he was set to join English Premiership club Wasps.
Having already turned down an offer to play for the All Blacks in November with a hope to feature for the red rose team, which he qualifies through his parents, Shields had filed a request for an early release with NZR even though they are not entitled to do so in the June international window.
However, considering the contribution made by Shields to the Hurricanes, the NZR decided to let him go under special circumstance but expressed disappointment by the activity of their England counterpart.
"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," said NZR's Chris Lendrum in a statement.
"Having said that, Brad has been an exceptional leader inside the Hurricanes environment and a loyal servant to New Zealand Rugby.
"We have taken some time to carefully work through the complexities of this request, to ensure that we gave appropriate consideration to his specific circumstances. In the end, we are happy with the terms of his temporary release.
"We are extremely disappointed that the RFU chose to take this unusual step in seeking this release given that Brad has not yet played rugby in England."
Meanwhile, Shields thanked NZR and Hurricanes for the overwhelming support given to him as he now looks to propel his career in England.
"I'm really appreciative that New Zealand Rugby has considered my request," the Hurricanes captain said.
"I know it has been a complex matter for them but I'm hugely grateful for their support on this."