Old agreement frees Mason to play in UK - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Old agreement frees Mason to play in UK

Ian Laybourn 08/01/2011 11:47:08 AM Comments (0)

Former NRL star Willie Mason will be able to play as a non-overseas player for Hull KR this year in the English Super League.

Mason's approval is thanks to a long-standing international agreement signed more than 10 years ago between the European Community and various Pacific nations.

The rugby football league on Friday moved to clarify the situation surrounding Mason, who visited the King of Tonga last week to gain a Tongan passport and cut through the red tape that threatened his move to the Super League.

The 30-year-old former North Queensland Cowboys forward, who has a Tongan mother but was actually born in New Zealand, has been registered with the RFL as a non-Federation trained player. However he doesn't count on the five-strong quota.

That is because of the Cotonou Agreement the EU signed with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States in June 2000 and the subsequent European Court of Justice's 2003 Kolpak ruling which gives them the same right to freedom of work and movement as EU citizens.

Signatories to the Cotonou agreement also include the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

Rovers had hoped to make room for Mason on their overseas quota by obtaining a Maltese passport for Australian second rower Ben Galea but were thwarted by delays.

Mason, who has agreed to a two-year deal with an option for a third season, still needs a visa to enter the country but Hull KR expect him to arrive by the end of the month.

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