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Players deported

MURWILLUMBAH rugby league export Damien Quinn left family, sun and comfort for the cold of Wales in pursuit of a dream - to play at the highest possible level.

After three years in the making, Quinn reached the dizzy heights he had longed for, the English Super League, but now the world of the Mount Saint Patrick's old boy has come crashing down.

Quinn, and fellow Australian-born Celtic Crusaders Jace van Dijk, Tony Duggan, Darren Mapp, Mark Dalle-Cort and Josh Hannay have all been sent packing for visa violations.

Banned from entering the UK for 10 years after breaching visa conditions by the Border Agency, the six former NRL and Queensland Cup players have until September 7 to leave the country.

“To be honest, we knew we were in some trouble,” Quinn told a Brisbane newspaper on Wednesday.

“When I first got wind we had this visa investigation (in May), I thought initially 'we're in strife here'.

“We knew we were gone, but from all indications we had, we were going to see the season out.

“The problem was with my initial visa when I came over at the end of 2005.

“We didn't think we were doing anything wrong - we were on working holiday visas - but you weren't allowed to get paid for professional sport.

“I can guarantee we weren't being paid like superstars; I was teaching to supplement my wage.”

Their deportation means the six men will finish their playing careers three games before the end of the season.

Quinn's wife Samantha and Mapp's wife Tanya, will also be denied entry over the next decade.

The side's most capped player and arguably the driving force behind the Crusaders promotional push, Quinn picked up two awards at their annual presentation night in 2008 - the Player Of The Year and the Supporters' Player Of The Year - for his efforts at five-eighth.

However, Quinn's next move hardly represents the end of the world, as he has taken up a contract with French club Lezignan.

“I've struck the jackpot that I've got something lined up,” Quinn is reported as saying.

“I'm lucky I've got something to go into.”

However, with the exception of Duggan, who is also likely to head to the region, the remaining players are expected to enter negotiations with clubs back on Australian soil.



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