Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is set to miss the club's Las Vegas season opener through suspension after his application was denied by the NRL. The forward still has a single game left on his seven-game suspension from last year and the club was hoping it could be used on the upcoming All-Stars match.
The enforcer was handed an enormous ban for two charges of dangerous contact and striking during the Tricolours' Round 26 clash with the Tigers. The Roosters then played three more games last season that Waerea-Hargreaves missed. Three matches during the Pacific Championship also counted towards his suspension due to the veteran being named in New Zealand’s preliminary squad for the tournament.
In an attempt to have the prop start for the Roosters in their historic Round 1 Vegas match, the Tricolours applied to the NRL to have the annual All-Stars clash included in Waerea-Hargreaves' ban but the club was told the game won't count as part of his suspension, The Sydney Morning Herald report. However, NRL judiciary chair Geoff Bellew reportedly denies ever receiving the application.
Waerea-Hargreaves has been informed he must sit out the season opener through suspension in what is expected to be a record-breaking season for the front rower. In 2024 the prop is anticipated to play his 300th game against the club's arch rivals the Rabbitohs. He will also likely become the most capped player in Roosters history this season, with the record currently held by Mitchell Aubusson who played 306 games for the club.
Andrew Abdo believes Vegas trip will be an overwhelming success
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo remains confident that the NRL can break into the US market and hopes to see the code establish itself across America. "Unashamedly, we want our sport to be the Australian sport that's showcased in Las Vegas going nationally across the country," Abdo said last month.
"We believe in our product, we believe in our game, and this is a huge market. This isn't about winning fans from other sports. It's about looking at a new sport."
The 2024 NRL season will kick off on March 3 in Las Vegas. Manly will take on South Sydney before the Roosters face the Brisbane Broncos.
Peter V'landys says there are no visa concerns ahead of Las Vegas trip
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys says he is confident that there will be no issues with any NRL player travelling into the United States. Concerns were raised last week about whether players with a criminal record would be able to enter the country using the US's electronic system for travel authorisation, a method that is easier to secure than athletes' or visitors' visas.
The NRL, however, say they don't foresee any issues but promised to offer clubs whatever assistance they need to acquire player visas. Several players travelling to Vegas have previously been charged by police and have criminal records, however, it is not believed that any of the offences fall under the category of serious offences as outlined by US authorities. The area of most uncertainty was over drug charges.
"I have no doubt there will be no problems," V'landys told AAP on Thursday. "From my experience from other areas where people have got them, there is nothing there I have any concern about."
- with AAP
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