Championship Preview: Toronto to target promotion

Toronto Wolfpack will certainly be looking to gain promotion to the Betfred Super League this year.

The Canadian club couldn’t have wished for a better debut season than what they had in 2017.

Paul Rowley’s Wolfpack won every single game in the regular campaign, scoring 916 points while only conceding 157.

They were rocked a little though in the League 1 Super 8s, as they suffered their first ever defeat at York while Keighley Cougars managed to keep them to a draw. But they still had enough points to gain promotion nonetheless.

Toronto pulled of a big coup in signing NRL star Josh McCrone from St George Illawarra Dragons while Ashton Sims and Joe Westerman are very good signings from Warrington Wolves.

In the off-season, they were dealt a hammer blow as they sacked front-row trio Fuifui Moimoi, Ryan Bailey and Dave Taylor after they broke curfew twice while on a pre-season training camp in Portugal.

They have since brought in prop Jack Buchanan from Widnes Vikings but Rowley still thinks they need a couple of extra additions to fill the gaps.

“We need at least three players to be anywhere near comfortable,” he told loverugbyleague.com, before the Buchanan signing.

“We are very vulnerable at the minute because we have had a horrendous pre-season with injuries at the minutes but it’s not an easy prospect shopping for players at this time of year.

“I’ve spent hours and hours trying to borrow, buy and steal – it’s difficult!”

Despite Toronto boasting one of the best squads in the second-tier, Rowley says there is no rush to get into Super League.

He added: “Our aim wasn’t promotion last year – our owners’ clear objective last year was to promote and develop the game in Canada.

“But the underlying consistent message is to get the game on global footing and put more rugby balls in kids’ hands. The more we win and the higher up (the ladder) we get, that message is easier to deliver.

“We were under no pressure to gain promotion last year and we’re not this year so my job is to improve our team, individuals and make sure they enjoy themselves.”

Head Coach: Paul Rowley

Assistant Coach: Simon Finnigan

Captain: Josh McCrone

Key Man: Ashton Sims

One to Watch: Andy Ackers

Ins: Josh McCrone (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ashton Sims (Warrington Wolves), Joe Westerman (Warrington Wolves), Andy Ackers (London Broncos), Adam Higson (Leigh Centurions), Tom Armstrong (Widnes Vikings), Olsi Krasniqi (Salford Red Devils), Cory Paterson (Leigh Centurions), Sam Hopkins (Leigh Centurions), Jack Buchanan (Widnes Vikings), Nick Rawsthorne (Hull FC).

Outs: Craig Hall (Leigh Centurions), Steve Crossley (Bradford Bulls), Tom Dempsey (Released), Sean Penkywicz (Workington Town), Shaun Pick (Sheffield Eagles), Rhys Jacks (Released), Dan Fleming (Halifax), David Taylor (Sacked), Fuifui Moimoi (Sacked), Ryan Bailey (Sacked).

Squad: 1 Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e, 2 Jonny Pownall, 3 Greg Worthington, 4 Gary Wheeler, 5 Liam Kay, 6 Josh McCrone, 7 Ryan Brierley, 9 Bob Beswick, 10 Ashton Sims, 11 Andrew Dixon, 12 Joe Westerman, 13 Jack Bussey, 14 Andy Ackers, 15 Adam Sidlow, 17 Blake Wallace, 18 James Laithwaite, 19 Adam Higson, 20 Tom Armstrong, 21 Olsi Krasniqi, 22 Richard Whiting, 24 Cory Paterson, 26 Ryan Burroughs, 27 Quinn Ngawati, 28 Sam Hopkins, 29 Jake Emmitt, Jack Buchanan (NN), Nick Rawsthorne (NN).

Prediction: 2nd

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