League One side Keighley are leading the way in terms of developing Canadian players, with two players arriving at the club as part of a new arrangement with the Canada Rugby League Association.
Canadian internationals Andrew Giguere and Michael Mastroianni have arrived at the Cougars for a month from their domestic side the Toronto City Saints with the aim being to improve their Rugby League skills and knowledge.
Both players can operate either at full-back or on the wing and made try-scoring starts to their 2018 domestic season with the Saints prior to arriving in the United Kingdom on Tuesday morning to start their month with the Cougars.
Speaking about the two new arrivals and the partnership, Darren Mabbott of Canada RLA said: “They’re both really excited about the opportunity, and when Andrew arrived at Cougar Park on Tuesday he said it was a beautiful place.
“Andrew has been a Canadian international for two years now whereas Michael is still quite new to the game of Rugby League but did make his Canada debut last year against Fiji.
“They’re both looking forward to the experience and happy to be a part of the Cougars and they will be looking to learn something new and different styles of play that they can then take back to Canada to pass on to some more of our domestic players.
“The month they have here can do wonders for our domestic players and game as they will learn new skills, new tactics and new ethics.
“We will be looking to send some more of our domestic players to the Cougars if not this year, then definitely next year depending on money and time with the overall aim being a Keighley Cougars side travelling to Canada for a tour at the end of 2019.
“The Toronto Wolfpack has brought the game of Rugby League to big crowds in Canada but they don’t have any Canadian players in their squad so how does that help the game domestically as you can only have so many foreign players?
“They do still have Quinn Ngawati registered to them but he is on a season long loan at the London Skolars, where he plays alongside fellow Canada international Louis Robinson, where his gaining valuable experience.
“But every year, the Canadian domestic game is growing and there is two new teams this year.
“Alberta and Ontario are going strong and British Columbia is as strong as ever so it is developing as a game and at the moment it’s all positives.
“And the benefit for the Qualifiers for the 2021 World Cup is now that Chile is in the Americas qualifying with Canada, the USA and Jamaica and there is an extra spot open for the Americas at the World Cup.
“Even if Canada doesn’t qualify, which of course we hope they do, there’s still that opportunity there. Who would have ever thought you’d have said that Canada or Jamaica would be at a Rugby League World Cup playing an England or an Australia?
“It brings new players and a new audience to the game of Rugby League on a global stage and it’s amazing for the players and the countries if a Canada gets through to a Quarter Final against the top tier nations.”