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Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Leeds willing to wait on Eastwood

Eastwood was a World Cup winner with New Zealand last year
Eastwood was a World Cup winner with New Zealand last year

Leeds Rhinos remain confident that Greg Eastwood will join them, although they will have to wait until at least December before he can play for them.

The New Zealand forward was set to sign for the Super League champions but was denied a visa, apparently because of speeding convictions.

Eastwood, 22, has now joined Australian club Canterbury Bulldogs on loan but will appeal against the visa rejection.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "We are prepared to wait."

The World Cup winner signed a three-year deal with the Rhinos last summer as a direct replacement for second rower Gareth Ellis, who joined Wests Tigers.

Eastwood's appeal could take up to four months and Hetherington said the delay had forced the club into taking the decision to let him go out on loan.

"His three-year contract with the Rhinos will be effective from December 1, 2009, subject to a successful application to gain a visa," said Hetherington.


"We are all disappointed that Greg has been unable to join the club at this stage and he continues to appeal the decision to be granted a visa.

"However, this process can take up to four months and it is unfair on Greg to be without a source of income or knowing his long-term future for that amount of time."

The collapse of the Eastwood move has left Leeds with scope to bring in a replacement for this season, something Hetherington admits is a possibility.

"Being without Greg in our squad presents us with challenges," he stated.

"If the right player became available there would be room for us to recruit, but that is dependent on the right player being available and that player fitting into our squad structure."

Eastwood has already started training with the Sydney-based Bulldogs and he is upbeat about the year ahead.

"The Bulldogs are a great option for me, and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in," Eastwood said.

"I've got quite a few mates there already, and they've been really positive about what the future holds."

Eastwood, who was also wanted by New Zealand Warriors, was the fourth high-profile overseas player to be denied a move to England following a tightening of entry regulations.

Todd Carney (Huddersfield), Michael Crocker (Hull) and Greg Bird (Bradford) also had applications turned down, although Crocker has re-applied for a visa and Bird has since joined Catalans Dragons.

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see also
Bradford hit by Bird visa setback
13 Feb 09 |  Bradford
Crocker to challenge visa refusal
03 Feb 09 |  Hull
Huddersfield abandon Carney deal
08 Jan 09 |  Huddersfield
MP enlisted to aid Eastwood deal
27 Jan 09 |  Leeds
Eastwood closes in on Rhinos move
08 Jan 09 |  Leeds

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