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Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 09:45 UK

Crusaders an 'easy' visa target

By Graham Thomas

Crusaders captain Jace Van Dijk is one of six players facing deportation
Crusaders captain Jace Van Dijk is one of six players facing deportation

Celtic Crusaders chairman Leighton Samuel has told BBC Sport Wales he believes the club were an "easy target" for the UK Borders Agency.

The decision has been made to deport six of the Welsh Super League club's players back to their native Australia.

Samuel says he believes the visa problems encountered by the Crusaders are widespread within both rugby codes.

"We're disappointed with the timing of the decision, it could have waited until the end of the season," he said.

"I think they did it because we're easy targets, possibly - to make an example of us and send out a message to the rest of sport. It's not just rugby league - it's rugby union and other sports as well.

"It's highlighted a problem. We've assisted in every way we could. I've not seen the report myself and that would be interesting to see, but I'm disappointed for the players, obviously."

Crusaders captain Jace Van Dijk, club record try-scorer Tony Duggan and star player Damien Quinn are to be deported along with Darren Mapp, Mark Dalle Cort and Josh Hannay after immigration officials ruled they breached visa regulations.


But in an exclusive interview with BBC Wales' Sport Wales programme, Samuel - who has helped bankroll the Crusaders through their first season in Super League - has vowed to make big changes once the season ends.

"It's not been a good year and we've got a lot of lessons to learn. The first season is out of the way and our expectations weren't high, but we've not done well on or off the field," added Samuel, who insists that he is committed to the club for at least the next two years.

"We've got to look forward to next year and make a lot of changes."

Those changes could involve some among the coaching staff after just three victories so far this season.

Asked about his own future, head coach John Dixon said: "I'm enjoying my life here. But you never know about coaches, do you?"

Jordan James - one of the handful of Welsh-qualified players who has regularly made the Crusaders' starting line-up - said he feels Dixon should stay on.

James said: "I don't see why not. I don't think he's done anything wrong this year.

"I think he's done the best he can and he'll only get better and the players will only get better. It's been the first year for all of us - so I hope he stays."

One definite change next season will see the Crusaders quit their aging Brewery Field stadium in Bridgend to become tenants at Rodney Parade, the home of regional union team Newport Gwent Dragons.

*Watch the full interview on Sport Wales; BBC TWO Wales, Friday 28 August, 1900 BST.

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see also
Crusaders see hope after misery
24 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Visa rules could hit more clubs
24 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusader's shock at deportation
21 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
Celtic Crusaders 0-68 Leeds
22 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
Crusaders to make Newport switch
21 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Bans 'hit Crusaders like a brick'
20 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Six Crusaders are to be deported
18 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Wales' sporting weekend in photos
21 Aug 09 |  Wales
Sport Wales: The TV programme
28 Sep 09 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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