Crusaders face player shortage due to visa problems

Celtic Crusaders could be without a third of their first-team squad due to problems with visas for part of their Australian contingent.nnTightening of regulations by the British consulate in Canberra mean that eight Crusaders players are still in Australia waiting for visas.nnThe Crusaders begin their season on February 6th against engage Super League champions Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.nnCaptain Jace Van Dijk, last year’s Co-operative NL1 Player of the Year Damien Quinn and top try-scorer Tony Dggan are among the players stranded down under.nnDarren Mapp, Mark Dalle-Court and Josh Hannay are also affected, along with two of the club’s nine new signings, prop forwards Ryan O’Hara and Jason Chan.nn“I’ve got no control over it whatsoever,” said coach John Dixon. “It is one of those things. We are governed by UK policy and Australian policy. nn“It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when that happens. We just have to be patient. We are confident these players will be back in time to play, but they are not here yet and we have to plan without them. nn“It’s not ideal, but we are making preparations right now to go without them because that’s what we have to do.”nnDixon also said that if the players had not returned in time for the Leeds game his side would still be ready to play, and that one or two of the clubs younger players could get their chance.nn“We will turn up and play on 6 February,” he added. “We’re utilising what we’ve got. We’ve got 17 guys working exceptionally hard and we have plans to throw some of our kids into the squad. nn“If we had to play tomorrow, that’s the team we’ve got. Anything on top of that is a bonus. You could have eight players missing through injury during the season. You’ve just got to deal with it.”

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