CELTIC Crusaders are a club in crisis.
Bottom of Super League with just three wins from their 25 top-flight fixtures and six of their star Australian players about to be deported for visa violations, the end of the season really can’t come soon enough for the men from South Wales.
Top players Jace van Dijk, Damian Quinn, Tony Duggan, Mark Dalle Cort, Josh Hannay and Darren Mapp will all be missing against the Giants this weekend after being told they must leave the country by September 7.
The six were found to have been playing for the Crusaders on holiday and student visas during the club’s early days in the Co-operative Championship and Championship I, and UK Border Agency officials have now caught up with the players and handed out their punishments.
And, in their absence, it’s hard to know where they can turn between now and the end of the campaign to provide their on-field inspiration.
These six players were arguably the best on the Crusaders’ books, and in their absence they were thrashed 68-0 at home to champions Leeds Rhinos 13 days ago.
ONE of the most easy-going coaches on the Super League circuit, Crusaders’ coach John Dixon’s patience has been tested to the full throughout 2009.
After enjoying remarkable success during the South Wales club’s National League II and I campaigns, the former teacher has found it a completely different kettle of fish in Super League.
But with a home win over Wigan and a stunning away success at Bradford, the former Brisbane Broncos assistant coach has enjoyed some success.