Eric Perez promises to bring through Canadian talent

James Gordon

Eric Perez says Ottawa will hunt for local talent in building a competitive side, as they prepare to launch in the Spring.

After buying the Hemel Stags’ RFL membership, Ottawa are slated to join League 1 in 2021, with confirmation expected in the New Year.

And Perez, who was part of the group that founded Toronto Wolfpack, is keen to see Canadian talent brought through.

He told RugbyAM: “We would like to have a competitive side and at the same time it’s really important to cultivate local talent. Rugby league is not an easy sport to play, and it requires a lot of skill and training.

“If there are Canadian players that are able to play, we will find them.

“And if there aren’t, in a couple of generations I promise you your biggest worry will be why are there so many Canadian players playing in rugby league.

“It takes generations to build talent, but I think we can unearth some prospects in Canada, so watch this space.”

One criticism of Toronto has been their lack of Canadian talent, a tough ask given that rugby league is in its infancy over there.

Quinn Ngawati, who was the first Canadian-born player ever to play professional rugby league, was discarded in 2018, and played nine games on loan at London Skolars.

There has been talk of him returning to the Wolfpack, as they look to get around the quota restrictions placed upon them by the RFL.

The country’s governing body, Canada Rugby League, has only been in existence since 2010, but attendances at the Wolfpack’s games at the Lamport Stadium have been encouraging.

Perez added: “One of the biggest legacies of Toronto Wolfpack is that it’s planted seeds all across Canada.

“My next goal was always to bring another team in to the system, because one is not enough – you need more to make an impact financially and culturally.

“We will be launching the new Ottawa club in spring to start playing in 2021, so the Wolfpack will not be alone.”