Absent Eagles star learns from Kiwi great

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SHEFFIELD Eagles’ missing full-back, Misi Taulapapa, has linked up with one of the greats of rugby league as he waits for clearance to return to the UK.

Taulapapa is playing for the Point Chevalier Pirates club in Auckland, where New Zealand legend Stacey Jones is a coach.

Samoan international Taulapapa was expected to return to the Eagles around Christmas but three months into the season has still not renewed his UK visa.

The Eagles remain hopeful the player will be on his way in the next couple of weeks and is happy he is training and playing for the Pirates.

“As soon as Misi gets the documentation he will be on the plane,” said coach Mark Aston. “He’s been having a run out with Stacey Jones’ team in New Zealand and playing with them.”

Jones is rated as the greatest player New Zealand has ever produced, playing 48 games for his country. He retired from the senior game with New Zealand Warriors in 2009 before playing a final season at the Pirates who compete in the third division of the Auckland league.

Aston added: “Misi’s working with a great player and that should give him a bit of confidence.”

Taulapapa had an outstanding first year with the Eagles winning the club’s Player of the Season Award.

He broke an ankle in the opening round of the play-offs and returned to New Zealand late last year to complete his rehabilitation. It is hoped that Taulapapa’s time with the Pirates will see him match fit when he finally arrives back at the club.

New signing and fellow Samoan international Quentin Laulu-Togagae has taken over at fullback but Taulapapa can play centre where the Eagles have been relying on dual-registration players as cover this season.

Eagles reserves lost 24-22 to Halifax – their third defeat this season.