Huddersfield Giants' major overseas signing Ukuma Ta'ai is facing a race against time to start the new Super League season next month after being stranded in New Zealand due to red tape.
The Giants were hoping the 25-year-old Tonga international, who has signed a three-year contract, would arrive in time to play in next week's friendly at St Helens.
But the former New Zealand Warriors forward has experienced a snag with his visa, meaning his work permit has yet to be processed and will now miss out against Saints.
"Everything was going superbly with Ukuma pre-Christmas and we expected him to be in the UK any day now," managing director Richard Thewlis told the Huddersfield Examiner.
"Every issue from our and the Rugby Football League's perspective was sorted weeks ago, but a technicality has been raised by the border agency in Manila, meaning Ukuma is now behind schedule.
"He has done all that has been asked of him by the authorities and, without going into precise detail, he has been extremely unfortunate in one area of his submission for entry.
"This requires further work which he will complete very soon when everywhere re-opens after the festive break.
"I expect to have further news in the not-too-distant future and remain confident - as does Ukuma and his manager - that the issue will be overcome.
"However, it does mean he is a definite non-starter for the trial game at St Helens next Friday."
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