First of all, Todd Carney was denied a visa. Then Michael Crocker had his visa denied. Yesterday we discovered that Greg Bird had his visa denied. Now joining the list is would-be Leeds second-rower Greg Eastwood, who has also been denied a visa by the British High Commission. For both Crocker and Bird it wasn’t a particularly massive surprise, as both had well known indiscretions that made them risky propositions. But for Eastwood (an NRL Grand Final and World Cup winner) it appears to be a drink-driving related conviction that is preventing him from joining, which seemed to go uncommented on after his signing.
Do clubs hire lawyers to work out the intricacies of contacts? Surely they should investigate any difficulties they would have in employing overseas players? For so many high-profile players to be refused visas is really creating a bad impression, not only because it looks like they are trying to hire people with blemished records (although it’s probably a good thing Bird got his visa denied, as he really should be sorting out his legal issues before leaving Australia) but mainly because it looks incompetent when the deal caves in like this. It really might be a good idea to check if there will be visa issues well in advance of signing a player now.
Add to this that Leeds are running short of experienced back-rowers at the minute, and Eastwood would have been a welcome addition to their under-strength side. What will they do now? It’s a good thing that Ian Kirke is apparently playing well at the minute. This seems to me like the sort of issue that could be overturned on an appeal (unlike Bird’s) so don’t rule out Eastwood making over here after all.