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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Visa clearance boosts Crusaders

Celtic Crusaders

Celtic Crusaders' troubled pre-season has been buoyed by the news that eight absent players will be available for their season opener at Leeds Rhinos.

Captain Jace van Dijk, leading try-scorer Tony Duggan and player-of-the-year Damien Quinn were amongst the players in Australia awaiting visas.

The eight have now been cleared, will travel on Saturday and arrive Sunday.

The Bridgend-based club start their maiden Super League season at champions Leeds Rhinos on 6 February.

They will face the formidable challenge without the benefit of a full warm-up match, Thursday's planned friendly at Harlequins having been cancelled due to poor pitch conditions at the Stoop.

"We're delighted that all the players will be over and ready for the first match," said assistant coach and football manager Anthony Seibold.

"They've all been training hard in Australia with selected clubs so there will be no problems with their fitness.

"And as all bar two are part of the squad who helped us get to the National League One Grand Final last year, they will have few problems fitting into our training routines.

"This is the best news that we could have ever had and now we can seriously concentrate on our first historic Super League season. It's going to be an exciting time for us."

Leeds at Headingley in our first Super League game is a dream come true

Tony Duggan
The other players affected were Darren Mapp, Mark Dalle-Court, Josh Hannay and two of the club's nine new signings, props Ryan O'Hara and Jason Chan.

The problems were caused by the tightening of regulations by the British consulate in Canberra.

Hull FC signing Michael Crocker has had his application for a visa rejected, while earlier this month similar problems saw Todd Carney's proposed move to Huddersfield collapse.

"I really pleased to be coming back and now I want to cement a starting spot," said Duggan, who has scored 98 tries in his last three years at the Crusaders.

"With the guys we kept from last year and the new talent we have brought in the competition for spots will be like never before, so hopefully that will inspire us all to bigger and better deeds.

"After that I want to show I can compete and be successful in a great competition.

"I missed the Challenge Cup game against Leeds last year so I haven't played a competition game against a Super League team.

"Leeds at Headingley in our first Super League game is a dream come true and will be great for the team and the fans."

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see also
Quins cancel Crusaders friendly
27 Jan 09 |  Celtic Crusaders
Crusaders complete Chan signing
12 Jan 09 |  Celtic Crusaders

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