Leinster Rugby have confirmed that two members of their touring squad in South Africa, captain Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson-Park, have not been granted a visa and will, as a result, return to Dublin at the earliest opportunity.
Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson-Park, who are both New Zealand citizens, encountered visa issues this morning upon arrival in Johannesburg with the Leinster squad. Leo Cullen’s men are in South Africa to play the Southern Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs in the GUINNESS PRO14 over the next ten days.
With the pair returning to Dublin, a Leinster Rugby statement said: “(Scrum half) Nick McCarthy has been called up to the touring squad as a result and will arrive tomorrow. Leinster Rugby will be making no further comment on this matter.”
Giving a further update to www.leinsterrugby.ie, Guy Easterby, Leinster’s head of rugby operations, said: “As of January 16, 2017, a visa is required for New Zealand nationals entering South Africa. Unfortunately this visa was not applied for by Leinster Rugby on behalf of Jamison Gibson-Park and Isa Nacewa in advance of the squad leaving Dublin Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
“It was only brought to our attention upon landing into Johannesburg on Wednesday morning that this was now a requirement. This was clearly an administrative oversight on our part and a valuable lesson has been learned.
“Nick McCarthy will arrive in later today (Thursday) and for the moment no other player will be called up to the squad. The squad is looking forward to the considerable challenge that awaits them against the Southern Kings.”
History will be made this Saturday when South Africa hosts its first ever PRO14 matches as the Southern Kings entertain Leinster in Port Elizabeth (kick-off 2.15pm local time/1.15pm Irish time – live on SuperSport 1/TG4) before the Toyota Cheetahs host Zebre in Bloemfontein.
Cullen’s side are looking to maintain their hot start to the season after bonus point wins over the Dragons and Cardiff Blues, but they will be up against a Kings team eager to rebound from their losses in the opening rounds.
The 46,000-seater Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will become the 40th venue to host a Championship fixture and a big crowd is expected to witness this first cross-Hemisphere clash on South African soil.