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Crusaders have struggled to sign quality players

Brian Noble faces an uphill task to assemble a competitive Crusaders team
Noble faces an uphill task to assemble a competitive Crusaders team

Crusaders head coach Brian Noble admits he is facing a race against time to get a competitive squad together in time for the start of Super League XV.

Noble also revealed he has lost out on several transfer targets because of the uncertainty over the club's future.

Financial problems have forced the Crusaders to move from south Wales to Wrexham's Racecourse Ground.

"We missed out on four or five players that we could have got across the line," Noble said.

"That's the sad and frustrating thing for us. I didn't want to give commitments and promises to people that couldn't be fulfilled, so there's been a hold on recruitment."

The fledgling Super League club are now likely to be forced to pack their team with overseas players for 2010 because of the lack of available domestic talent.

Former Hull hooker Tommy Lee is the club's only confirmed newcomer for 2010 but they have been linked with overseas players Michael Witt, Matt Utai, Tony Martin and Nick Youngquest.

Last season the Crusaders endured the embarrassment of seeing six of their players deported for breaching visa regulations.

As a developing club, the Crusaders will be allowed to sign up to 14 overseas players in 2010 and Noble confirmed he is almost certain to fill the quota.

"There is no other way we can get a team out on the field unless we do," he said. "If you look at the availability of domestic players, it's absolutely non-existent.

"The reality for us is that we've got to go overseas initially and develop the talent that is here in Wales.


"It's a race against time in many respects but the whole of the rugby league should support this 100%.

"The more Welsh players that come into the mix, the better it is for Super League. We need to spread the word.

"It's fabulously exciting. We know we need to be reasonably competitive this year. We're going to have to overcome a few hurdles but I'm absolutely thrilled that this has come off."

The Crusaders kick off the new season with a home game against defending champions Leeds Rhinos on Friday, 29 January.

The Super League club will have access to players from new Championship One outfit South Wales, which will act as a feeder club but also have Super League aspirations of their own.

Crusaders chief executive Mike Turner, who is to remain with the club in their new home, said: "It's a great opportunity for the club to move forward.

"We now have a blueprint for Wales rugby league with a Championship team down in south Wales.

"Our academy will still be based in south Wales so we will have a production line that should see Welsh kids playing in Super League."

Wrexham FC chief executive Paul Retout revealed at a press conference on Tuesday that the initiative for the football club's takeover came from Crusaders owner Leighton Samuel, who had become frustrated at the lack of additional investment in south Wales.

"It was a compelling business case," said Retout. "By round-sharing, we can spread the costs of running the stadium and training base."

Meanwhile, South Wales RL hope to appoint a coach by the end of the week but director Mark Rowley, who is executive chairman of Wales Rugby League, confirmed that national coach and Crusaders assistant Iestyn Harris will have an involvement.

"Six or eight weeks ago we were talking about having no team in Wales at all and now we've actually got two, so it's a fantastic time for rugby league in Wales," said Rowley.

"We had 95 youngsters at an open trial for our Under-16s last week and we've doubled the amount of teams playing in the champion schools competition this year.

"The ultimate aim is for the 2013 World Cup to be a Wales team that is really competitive."

South Wales will host the Crusaders' home matches against Harlequins on 2 April and Bradford on 12 June.

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see also
Crusaders complete Wrexham move
15 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders' move 'may cause anger'
15 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders move to save Wrexham FC
11 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
New Welsh league club confirmed
11 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders sign ex-Hull hooker Lee
02 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders face 60,000 visa fine
30 Nov 09 |  Crusaders
Leeds face kick-off at Crusaders
18 Nov 09 |  Rugby League
Crusaders drop 'Celtic' from name
02 Nov 09 |  Crusaders
Noble unveiled as Crusaders coach
14 Oct 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to make Newport switch
21 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders to play at Racecourse
03 Sep 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders celebrate Super League status
22 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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