Former Blues players denied entry to South Africa for Pro14 match
Two former Blues players have been denied entry into South Africa due to visa issues as their Irish club prepared for Pro14 matches.
Leinster captain Isa Nacewa and halfback Jamison Gibson-Park were both sent home on arrival on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) because they did not have the required visa, which South Africa has required of New Zealand citizens since January.
"It was only brought to our attention upon landing into Johannesburg on Wednesday morning that this was now a requirement," said the club's Head of Rugby Operations Guy Easterby.
"This was clearly an administrative oversight on our part and a valuable lesson has been learned.
"Nick McCarthy will arrive in later on Thursday and for the moment no other player will be called up to the squad," he added.
Nacewa, born in Auckland, played 44 Super Rugby matches for the Blues, appeared in 54 NPC matches for Auckland, winning three titles, and was capped once for Fiji and three times for the Barbarians. He has appeared in more than 170 matches in two stints for Leinster, winning three European titles and one Pro12 title.
Gibson-Park, also born in Auckland, played 29 Super Rugby matches for the Blues and 13 for the Hurricanes, winning the title in 2016, and appeared 32 times for Taranaki in the NPC. He has played internationally with the New Zealand Maori eight times and is in his secon season with Leinster.
Leinster will compete in the first PRO14 match in South Africa when they meet the Southern Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (Sunday NZT).
The Kings and the Cheetahs joined the PRO14 this season after being ejected from a trimmed down Super Rugby competition for 2018.
Later on Saturday (Sunday NZT), the Cheetahs host Zebre of Italy in Bloemfontein in their first home match.
Leinster, who have won four previous PRO12 titles, will stay in South Africa for a meeting with the Cheetahs on September 22 (September 23 NZT).
They did not say whether they would attempt to get visas for the two New Zealanders to travel for that match.
- Stuff, Reuters