UK visa system criticised by rugby league

15 Feb 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Leeds Rhinos have criticised the UK Border Agency (UKBA), claiming it discriminates against rugby league players when it comes to UK visas.

Leeds Rhinos have hit out at the UKBA regarding the fact that they were unable to give their new signing his début in last Sunday's Engage Super League opener.

The team had signed Weller Hauraki but problems with his UK work permit have meant that he has been unable to play.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington told the Press Association: "Weller already had a work permit to play for Crusaders RL when he transferred to Leeds Rhinos in November and this required a new work permit.

"I cannot believe that his application should take this long and, when compared to other sportsmen, there is no doubt he has suffered at the hands of bureaucracy and red tape."

He explained that Hauraki has been waiting for two months to have his UK work permit organised by immigration officials at the UKBA.

Mr Hetherington added that the club is of the belief that rugby league players are being treated differently to other professional sportsmen when applying for UK work permits and visas.

The Rhinos have even requested that the local MP, Greg Mulholland, investigate the matter on their behalf.

Hauraki has since received his UK visa and is registered with the rugby league.