League: Warriors face fight to recruit Eastwood

By Michael Brown

The prospect of Kiwis utility Greg Eastwood joining the Warriors improves with each day as his appeal for a visa to play in the UK Super League drags on.

Eastwood had signed to play under former Kiwis coach Brian McClennan at Leeds this season after four years with the Broncos but wasn't allowed into the UK because of a catalogue of speeding offences.

As the Herald on Sunday reported last week, Eastwood is keen to join the Warriors if his visa appeal is rejected and the Warriors are interested in signing him.

They will, however, face competition from at least three other NRL clubs, including two Sydney clubs.

Eastwood's manager David Riolo will talk to Leeds boss Gary Hetherington this week, after their World Club Challenge match against Manly tomorrow morning (NZT). But with the Super League season already four weeks old, they might be tiring of the delays.

Hull FC are also appealing a decision that has prevented Michael Crocker from entering the country, with the Sharks said to be poised to snaffle the former Australian and Melbourne second-rower after releasing Fraser Anderson to rugby.

The Warriors have room to move for Eastwood under the salary cap after last week granting Epalahame Lauaki a release to join Hull and their position would improve even further if Michael Witt also departed Mt Smart Stadium.

The five-eighths has been linked with a move to Penrith, although Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said no formal offer had been lodged with them. He was under the impression Penrith general manager Mick Leary was interested in Witt but would wait until after last night's pre-season match against the Cowboys.

"If his agent made a formal approach, we are pretty sure we would release him," Scurrah said of Witt.

Witt, who has one year left on his contract, was not needed by coach Ivan Cleary for last night's trial against the Titans and played for a composite Warriors side in their 28-14 win over the Auckland Vulcans yesterday.

He caused a stir last week when he said he he had an offer at the end of last season to join Hull but that Warriors management prevented a move.

"The club were never presented with a deal," Scurrah said. "I think there was some interest but there's a big gap between interest and a proper offer."

Lauaki is not expected to encounter any problems in securing his visa.

Leeds and Manly have adopted very different approaches ahead of tomorrow morning's World Club Challenge.

Leeds, who are hoping to win the match for an English side for the sixth time in a row, won't name their side until one hour before kickoff. In contrast, NRL champions Manly named their side three days out.

"This is a very important fixture for us and we will not rush into making a decision," Leeds coach Brian McClennan said.

Injuries to key players have played a large part in forcing McClennan's approach.

Former Australian hooker Danny Buderus (knee) will miss the match, as will Kiwis fullback Brent Webb (back).

Leeds are striving to become the first club to win consecutive world titles after their 11-4 win over Melbourne last year.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 01 Nov 2014 07:43:56 Processing Time: 1277ms