Coach Tony Smith today shrugged off fears Leeds Rhinos have taken a risk on new signing Ali Lauiti'iti.
Coach Tony Smith today shrugged off fears Leeds Rhinos have taken a risk on new signing Ali Lauiti'iti. The Kiwi Test star was released part way through his contract at New Zealand Warriors amid rumours of a bust-up with club coach Daniel Anderson But Smith said he has no worries over the former world second-rower of the year's attitude or application. "Daniel has rung him to wish him all the best," said Smith. "They are finishing on good terms. "A lot of people have said to me 'are you worried about him', but I'm not. "I understand some of the circumstances and the situations they are going through over there. "It's not as though we're getting someone we don't know anything about. We know a whole lot about him. He needs a change having been at the same club for so long. "I have spoken to Ali and he's really excited about coming to Leeds. "My nephew, Rowan Smith, is an assistant-coach at New Zealand Warriors and he ran into him the other day. "He was asking a whole lot of questions about the club and about me and saying he can't wait to get started over here. "It is a new chapter in his life. We are all really excited about him, but we aren't going to put too much pressure on him. "He is going to be a great player for Leeds, there is no doubt about that. "But he will be facing some challenges starting with a new team and we need to give him a bit of time to settle. "We should not have unrealistic expectations of him straight away." Lauiti'iti has been granted a work permit and Rhinos are now waiting to hear if his visa has been processed. Chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "We received his work permit and that was immediately dispatched by secure mail to New Zealand. "He needs the work permit to be able to collect his visa. We'd hoped Ali would be here in time to come with us to the Hull game on Friday, but that won't now be the case. "We are confident he will be here in time for the Salford match on May 28 and the aim is that he arrives in this country as soon as possible. We want to get Ali integrated quickly. "He has got his bags packed and he is ready to come over as soon as the paperwork is sorted out. "We are in regular contact with him and everything that can be done has been done. It is just a case of waiting for the bureaucratic process and now it's a day-by-day thing." Hetherington added: "Ali is really looking forward to it. He has heard a lot about the Rhinos fans and is looking forward to being a Rhino as soon as possible." To book your places to see Ali Lauiti'iti make his debut for the Rhinos simply click here to use our secure online booking service.
The schedule for the Police Rugby League World Cup was announced at the Provident Stadium, Bradford earlier today and sees current World Champions Fiji, Australia and host nation Great Britain go head to head in a round-robin format.
Seven of Rugby League's most celebrated heroes will be in attendance with specific roles at Magic Weekend, the seventh staging of Super League's two-day extravaganza, when the event returns to the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, this weekend.