Rhinos' fans may be forced to wait for Hauraki

THE debut of Leeds Rhinos' new signing Weller Hauraki may be delayed due to red tape.

The powerful New Zealand Maori second-row, who moved from Crusaders last month, is due to make his bow alongside fellow winter captures Ben Cross and Zak Hardaker in today's Festive Challenge Trophy game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Headingley Carnegie.

However, problems with his visa means he may have to frustratingly be left out of Brian McDermott's first match in charge and Samoan prop Kylie Leuluai has also endured similar difficulties.

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington told the Yorkshire Post: "We've an issue with the final part of their clearances.

"They are both waiting for it to arrive and we're hoping it will do today or tomorrow but if it doesn't the league has advised us not to play them.

"Kylie's is a simple extension while Weller's is to do with the fact he has changed employers but it is only a small matter and not a case of do they qualify or anything like that.

"They seem to have got caught up or lost in the Christmas post but hopefully it'll be sorted soon."

Otherwise, Leeds are set to field a strong side for the game which was put back after the initial Boxing Day fixture was frozen off.

Australian prop Cross, who arrives from Newcastle Knights, is due to start as is exciting young three-quarter Hardaker, who joins from Featherstone Rovers.

With England stars Kevin Sinfield and Ryan Hall also featuring alongside the likes of internationals Brent Webb, Rob Burrow and Ali Lauitiiti, it is one of their strongest festive line-ups in years.

Hetherington said: "They are all keen to get out there. They've had six weeks in full training and have a new coach they are all looking to impress. Wakefield have named a pretty strong squad too and it should be a good contest."

Trinity give debuts to seven new signings – Kevin Penny, Tommy Lee, Paul Johnson, Stuart Howarth, Josh Veivers, Chris Dean and Motu Tony – but make one change to the side initially picked for Boxing Day.

Luke George comes in on the wing and Aaron Murphy switches to centre with Daryl Millard unavailable because of a prior engagement.

The game is part of a double-header with the Aviva Premiership Leeds Carnegie v Gloucester fixture and Hetherington is hoping fans from both clubs will watch each other's action.

"There will be a break of only around 10 minutes after the Carnegie match finishes and the Rhinos start so it is the first genuine double-header we've ever had here," he said.

"Before when we've done it there's been around an hour between games but here they are much closer together now so it'll be interesting.

"We're hoping Rhinos fans will get here early to cheer on Carnegie in what is a crucial game for them and then their supporters will hopefully stay on to have a look at the Rhinos."

Carnegie kicks-off at 1pm with the rugby league game following at 3pm and admission covers both with a donation being made to the Sick Children's Trust.