Former Shark hits UK visa dead-end
Former Canberra and Cronulla first-grader Sami Sauiluma has been forced to conduct an about-face after his application to play for Hull KR in the Super League was rejected by the governing body.
Signed to the Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup and trialling over the pre-season with the Titans, Sauiluma was set to be reunited with former Raiders teammates Terry Campese and Dane Tilse at Hull but returned to Burleigh on Wednesday and will line up for the club in their trial against Sunshine Coast at Pizzey Park on Saturday.
One of the visa requirements in order to receive a visa to play rugby league in the UK is that the player must have played 50 per cent of NRL games in the previous qualifying period, Sauiluma making only three NRL appearances for the Sharks last season.
Leeds legend and now Hull KR football manager Jamie Peacock was brought in to try and secure Sauiluma a start in the Super League but was unsuccessful, coach Chris Chester telling Hull's Daily Mail that it had been "a long drawn-out process".
With the Titans still short on outside backs two weeks out from the start of the season the 25-year-old again has the opportunity to impress but in the meantime Burleigh coach Jim Lenihan is happy to have him back in his squad.
"That's great news, that's been really welcome," Lenihan told NRL.com.
"He didn't have any [English] heritage and he hadn't played enough NRL games so they struggled to get him past the post.
"I don't think Sami had the options to get past those checkpoints and the Super League board knocked him back but we're very happy to have him here with us.
"We'll start him on the bench this week because he hasn't been to training for a little while but certainly someone with his size and pace and the NRL experience that he's had, he's certainly a good fit for us.
"We've probably struggled for size on our edges and he certainly fits the bill."
Fellow Shark Pat Politoni will miss Burleigh's trial after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the early moments of the Titans' trial against the Warriors last weekend while prop Josh Ailaomai will also be rested.
Former Titans Jamal Fogarty and Jamie Dowling will line up for Burleigh as will Titans contracted forward and former Raider Jeff Lynch.
Burleigh's trial against the Sunshine Coast kicks off at 3.15pm and is the main curtain-raiser to the Titans v Rabbitohs NRL trial at 5pm.
More than 3,000 tickets have already been pre-sold for the match with Burleigh officials expecting a crowd of close to 7,000 to witness the return of Sam Burgess to rugby league in a near full-strength Rabbitohs squad.