Mason 'rejected a return to NRL' to fulfil Rovers deal

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The Independent Online

Willie Mason has revealed that he had the chance to pull out of his contract with Hull KR during his long wait for a visa. The Australian Test forward also believes that he could have played on in the NRL until he was 35. "I could easily have stayed in the NRL for another few years and finished my career there, but I've always wanted to test myself in Super League," Mason said on his first visit to Craven Park.

"The crowds here and the passion they have for their sport I love. I think I could have played for another five years. I could easily have pulled out of this deal and stayed in the NRL. I had that choice. During the visa stuff there were a lot of sharks swimming around asking me if I wanted to stay in the NRL."

Having made his decision, Mason is in line to make his debut for Rovers against Crusaders on Sunday. "The likelihood is that he will play," said the Hull KR coach, Justin Morgan. "I know he's very willing and able. We'll see how the week goes, but he's extremely determined to play this weekend."

Rovers have lost three of their first four matches in Super League and hope that Mason will give them an immediate boost, both on the field and at the turnstiles. More than 100 fans paid for the privilege of attending his press conference yesterday and his presence on the team-sheet would guarantee a big increase on the 7000 who watched Rovers play Crusaders last season.

The Australian forward Dave Armitstead has rejoined Barrow, the club with which he won the National League 1 Player of the Year award in 2008. He spent the next two years with Leigh.