Martin Taupau of the Sea Eagles remains grounded in Denver.
Martin Taupau of the Sea Eagles remains grounded in Denver.

NRL star unloads on airline

THE return of New Zealand NRL stars from the Denver Test has hit yet another snag with Manly prop Martin Taupau's re-scheduled flight delayed due to mechanical issues.

The Kiwi Test team's flights were cancelled on Monday due to an electrical storm, leaving them set to land just a day before the start of NRL round 16 matches.

Players were booked on different flights on Tuesday, leaving them set to land back in Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday.

However, Taupau, who is expected to run out for Manly on Saturday against Penrith, took to Twitter on Tuesday to complain about a fresh delay which is likely to make him miss a connecting flight to Sydney from San Francisco.

Manly have been in frequent contact with Taupau to monitor his return, which is crucial given their dire roster situation with the club struggling to name 21 fit players at times this season.

"We're just looking forward to getting Marty home," chief executive Lyall Gorman said.

The delays haven't affected members of the England team, who flew home immediately after defeating the Kiwis on Sunday.

However they mean St George Illawarra forward Leeson Ah Mau is set to arrive back in the country on Wednesday, just one day before his team's clash with Parramatta.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor has already said he'll take a cautious approach with team selection for the Eels clash, given the effects of recent rep matches and long travel.

However he must operate within the confines of his 30-man roster, after having four players in State of Origin, three in Denver and another two playing in last week's Pacific Test.

Gareth Widdop is among the Dragons contingent who were involved in rep matches.
Gareth Widdop is among the Dragons contingent who were involved in rep matches.

The Warriors trio of Issac Luke, Peta Hiku and Ken Maumalo were heading straight to Auckland from the US, with coach Stephen Kearney unsure if he will use them against Cronulla on Friday night.

The Roosters' Isaac Liu and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are also due to play on Friday night against Melbourne's Kiwis prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona in Adelaide, giving them just two days back in the country to prepare.

It comes after a number of NRL clubs opposed the controversial Test, amid fears over player workloads through the middle of the season with an overseas trip and short turnaround.

However the game was considered a success, with England coach Wayne Bennett backing the fixture's future for the next two years of the deal after almost 20,000 fans turned out at Mile High Stadium.


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