Mason on course for Hull KR, via Tonga

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The Independent Online

Hull KR expect their high-profile new signing Willie Mason to be with them by the end of the week, following his dash to Tonga for a passport.

The New Zealand-born Australian international forward qualifies for a Tongan passport through his mother, who was born in the islands, but had to go there personally to speed up the process.

"I had to meet the Prime Minister," he said. "I think it was a formality, but that was what I had to do to fast-track it and make sure it went through."

Mason, most recently with the North Queensland Cowboys, now expects to arrive on Humberside on 7 January, having already missed the early weeks of his new club's pre-season training.

His new Tongan passport exempts him from the Robins' overseas quota, opening up the possibility of them expanding their Antipodean contingent still further by making another signing on a similar basis.

Thanks to various loopholes and exemptions, Rovers could already field an entire Australian-born pack, while the signing of Blake Green completes an Australian half-back combination with Michael Dobson. The Kiwi international Jake Webster is a regular in the threequarter line.

Warrington thrashed Widnes 48-18 at the Stobart Stadium yesterday in both clubs' first pre-season outing. The Super League side led 32-6 at half-time, with the young reserve half-back, Craig Harvey, claiming a hat-trick of tries.

On Saturday, Leeds began their preparation for the season by beating Wakefield 40-22.