NRL bad boys given the green light for Vegas season opener after having to prove to US Government they were fit to hold a visa
- Strict US border controls are in place
- Past indiscretions meant they had to provide explanations
- All players for historical clashes are now cleared
NRL fans will find the full line-up of stars in Vegas for the historic season opener in the United States, with the final players receiving their visas to travel for their respective clashes.
A number of players have been sweating to be allowed into the United States because of past indiscretions, with Brisbane Broncos fullback Reece Walsh and Sydney Roosters star Brandon Smith the latest players to be cleared on Friday.
Walsh was placed on a good behavior bond and fined $400 after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine and breaching a police order in 2022.
Smith’s case was perhaps the most curious because he had to please provide the United States government with an explanation about an incident that occurred a decade ago when he was playing under-20s for the North Queensland Cowboys.
Both’s visas were referred to the US government, but were granted early Friday morning.
Walsh posed for photos with teammate Adam Reynolds after flying to Sydney to get his visa approved for the round one NRL clash against the Roosters in Vegas
Roosters star Brandon Smith was all smiles after sorting the paperwork for his trip to Vegas
It is a relief for both the Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters, but also for NRL boss Peter V’landys, who has made no secret of his desire to use Walsh to sell the game to American fans.
“He’s got charisma and presence, Reece Walsh,” V’landys told Nine’s Today in the run-up to the 2023 NRL grand final.
‘He is the Justin Bieber of the rugby league. They look like brothers.’
Meanwhile, it was also good news for South Sydney teammates, friends and family Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton who also got visas this week.
They had to explain they were charged with fighting in a public place, fraud and obstructing/resisting area officials after they allegedly fought on a Canberra street after a night of drinking for Wighton’s 30th birthday.
The charges were later dropped.
Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton’s complaint was dropped last year so they could secure their visas for Vegas
Mitchell even launched his own range of t-shirts to celebrate the historic NRL clashes in Las Vegas
Mitchell wasted no time showing off getting a visa, releasing a limited edition clothing line that read ‘Trellmit Vegas Takeover’.
“I’m lucky mate,” Mitchell said.
‘It was pretty quick in there. We are approved and ready to go. Can’t wait for Vegas.
“Vegas is great and I get fresh eyes to play for, so let’s go.”
South back Michael Chee Kam and assistant coach John Sutton were also allowed to fly to Vegas.
One of the more curious visa cases was the recruitment of Luke Brooks of the Manly Sea Eagles, whose previous indiscretionary insight into an incident in 2017 escaped.
‘That’s all well and good. Just get my visa sorted. It’s up to the people in charge, so we’ll see what happens,” Brooks told reporters after his interview with US officials.