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Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Crusaders trio suffer visa delays ahead of new season


Crusaders are having fresh visa problems over three of their overseas players ahead of the 2011 Super League season launch on 12 February.

Rhys Hanbury, Frank Winterstein and Hep Cahill are in Australia awaiting visa clearance to enter the United Kingdom.

Six Crusaders were deported in 2009 over visa problems.

The new problems could mean head coach Iestyn Harris will be without the trio for their Millennium Stadium opener against Salford.

But half-back Hanbury, second rower Winterstein and new signing Hep Cahill are stranded Down Under.

This time last year, coach Brian Noble was still putting together his squad following the club's hasty move from Bridgend to Wrexham.

However, Harris, who has taken over from Noble, believes he will have a strong squad at his disposal even if the trio do not make it in time for the season opener in Cardiff.

"The trial games have given us a chance to look at the younger members of the squad," he said, speaking at the club's pre-season media day.

Gareth Thomas made massive strides when he played for Wales in the centre. Centre or back row is his position

Iestyn Harris

"We're going to have the majority of the squad available, we'll have about 24 to pick from."

Harris also believes his squad will include Australian half-back Jarrod Sammut, who has been linked with a move to Hull despite having two years left on his Crusaders' contract.

The former Penrith Panthers man made a big impact during a disrupted first season at the Racecourse Ground and emphasised his value to the team with a try hat-trick in their friendly victory over Catalans Dragons in Perpignan.

"Jarrod is a quality player who can change the course of a game at any given time," said Harris. "Why would you want to lose somebody like that? That's the message we sent to Hull."

Sammut, meanwhile, insists he has no desire to leave the Welsh club, saying: "I'm still here and really looking forward to the season with the Crusaders. I'm very happy where I am at the moment."

One player definitely ruled out for the start of the season is Welsh international hooker Lloyd White, who is facing an eight-week lay-off after having his appendix removed.

However, Harris expects a big season from 36-year-old Gareth Thomas in a new role.

The former Wales and British Lions captain made just 11 Super League appearances in his first season before picking up a groin injury and appeared almost exclusively on the wing.

But he played for Wales in the end-of-season European Cup at centre and is set for a move inside with his club, to either centre or second row for what will be his swansong in rugby.

"I'm not sure wing is his best position," said Harris. "He's a lot better when he's closer to the action.

"He made massive strides when he played for Wales in the centre. Centre or back row is his position."

Harris has appointed another veteran, full-back Clinton Schifcofske, as captain for 2011.

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see also
Crusaders handed deportation fine
23 Feb 10 |  Crusaders
Six Crusaders are to be deported
18 Aug 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders earn first friendly win
09 Jan 11 |  Crusaders
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League

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