Brian McDermott praises Jon Wilkin as he stars for Toronto after knee surgery delayed

Veteran forward Jon Wilkin turned back the years with a fine performance for Toronto at Warrington – just hours after the club announced he was ruled out of the game.

Wilkin, 36, was due to have a knee operation, but when it was delayed until Tuesday, he insisted he was able to play.

That persuaded coach Brian McDermott to shuffle his selection around, and it almost paid dividends, as Wilkin helped inspire a fightback that was ultimately in vain in a 32-22 defeat at Warrington.

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McDermott said: “He was going to have an op this weekend and was told it is not until Tuesday now. Like the old crank that he is, said he’d see if he can play.

“I watched him warm-up and I didn’t know that he decided to give it a crack, and I thought ‘what on Earth is he doing warming up?’, and I got a text saying that he’s going to give it a chance.

“I had to do a little bit of rejigging as I had already picked my team then but once he tells you he’s going to play (he has to play). He was a big influence.”

Toronto handed a debut to triallist Tony Gigot, who came on midway through the first half for Hakim Miloudi in a move that saw Gareth O’Brien go in to the halves.

Greg Worthington played only a handful of minutes having been recalled from a loan spell at Featherstone, where he is expected to return next week.

Winger Matty Russell suffered a concussion in the second half, though McDermott is hopeful he will be cleared for next week’s clash – also at the Halliwell Jones Stadium – against St Helens.

Despite the disruption to his line-up, McDermott was pleased with his side’s performance – as they fought back from 16-0 down to level at 22-22.

It comes following encouraging signs in defeats to Salford and Wigan in the past two rounds.

He added: “We are getting better every week and we are building on that each week.

“It was really encouraging that we got back in the game, and to be in a position to win it and I think we would have won it had it not been some really resilient defence from Warrington.

“No matter what play or what pass option they had bodies there, so credit to Warrington, they deserved to win.”

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