Castleford Tigers: Red tape delay to Isa's start

Recruit Willie Isa is likely to miss virtually all of Castleford Tigers' pre-season programme, coach Terry Matterson has confirmed.

The former Melbourne Storm centre signed for Tigers last week and is now awaiting clearance to play in the UK.

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Matterson said no problems are expected, but 21-year-old Isa – a Samoan international – will have to wait for his application to be approved,

with the Christmas period set to delay an already long-winded process.

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"We don't know when he'll get here," Matterson admitted. "They can't give you any sort of idea as to when a visa is going to come through.

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"We are not anticipating any problems, he's got no history, but it is just a matter of his application being processed and when it gets to the top of the pile. If we get him for the last trial (game), I will be pleased – and that's more than a month away."

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Meanwhile, Matterson said former Leeds Rhinos full-back/winger Richard Mathers will make his first appearance for Tigers in the Boxing Day game at home to Bradford Bulls.

Fellow recruit Jake Emmitt is also set to feature, alongside half-back Rangi Chase and skipper Ryan Hudson.

"We have got a few niggles and anyone who isn't 100 per cent won't play," he said.

The rest of Tigers' 22-man squad is made up of fringe first team players and academy prospects.

Bulls' squad includes new signings Shaun Ainscough, Patrick Ah Van and Ian Sibbit.

First-team squad members Elliott Whitehead, Craig Kopczak, Jason Crookes and Vinny Finnigan will also play, with Cain Southernwood partnering Danny Addy in the halves.

England Academy hooker Adam O'Brien will make his first open-age start, alongside fellow youngsters Tom Burgess, John Bateman and Liam McAvoy.

With coach Mick Potter away, new assistant-boss Francis Cummins will take charge of the visitors.

Castleford Tigers: Mathers, Eden, J Thompson, Arundel, Blackmore, Milner, Chase, Walker, Hudson, Emmitt, Harris, Davies, O Holmes. Subs Smith, Clark, D Holmes, Orange, Picketts, Brierley, C Thompson, Johnson, Siddons.

Bradford Bulls: from Finnigan, Ainscough, Crookes, Ah Van, Hawthorne, Addy, Cain, Southernwood, Kopczak, O'Brien, Burgess, Sibbit, Whitehead, Mackay, Windley, McAvoy, Bateman, Murphy, Lillycrop, Bailey.

LOCKING HORNS: Neil Warnock and Thomas Christiansen, right, will face each other in South Wales on Tuesday night.

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