New Zealand World Cup winner Greg Eastwood will join engage Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos from December 2009 on a three year contract after his appeal against the refusal to grant entry clearance under an ancestry visa was successful on Wednesday.
Eastwood will complete the 2009 season with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL before travelling to the UK in the Autumn to take up a three year contract with the Rhinos.
Commenting on the decision Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said, "We are obviously very pleased and relieved with the news and everyone at the club is really looking forward to having Greg with us next season. He is a world class player with a wealth of experience for someone so young.
"We are particularly grateful to the role of our local MP Greg Mulholland whose support in this appeal has been very helpful," added Hetherington.
Head Coach Brian McClennan, who has worked with Eastwood when he was national coach of the New Zealand, is excited about bringing in the World Cup winner next season, he added, "Greg will be a great addition to our squad in 2010. He is having a really good season with the Canterbury Bulldogs this season but he is really happy to have his future sorted. It was important that we were able to get him playing with the Bulldogs this season because he loves to play his sport. But I know he is looking forward to being a Rhino from 2010 and onwards and we can not wait to have him here.
"There has been a lot of hard work done by people at the club and others on behalf of the club and this is a great reward for their efforts," added McClennan.
Commenting from Australia, Eastwood admitted the appeal result has come as a relief to him, "I am just pleased to have it all cleared up and I am looking forward to joining the Rhinos next season. I have really enjoyed my time at the Bulldogs and hopefully we can finish the season with a Grand Final. It would be a great way to end not only for my time at the club but more so for the legendary Hazem El Masri who is retiring at the end of the season.
"Brian McClennan has been in touch with me throughout the season and keeping me up to date on the Rhinos. I feel like I am a better player now than I was twelve months ago when I first signed for Leeds having had the experience of playing with the Bulldogs and winning the World Cup and hopefully I can continue to learn at the Rhinos."
Following both teams elimination from the Tetley's Challenge Cup last weekend, Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield have agreed to re-arrange the date for their postponed Round Eight Super League clash at the Rapid Solicitor's Stadium which will now be played on Friday 26th July, kick off 8pm.
Rugby League fans will have the opportunity to put questions about the ongoing Policy Review and planned competition restructuring directly to RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood and RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer in a ground-breaking online question and answer session on Friday (May 17).