Well this week saw the official launch of the Canadian club believed to be the Toronto Wolfpack - arguably the sport’s worst kept secret.
Many weeks ago I wrote in this column that our ex-coach Paul Rowley would be their head coach based on information I had been made aware of from people within my club.
I also believe the recently departed Simon Finnigan will be announced as Rolls’ assistant with at least two of our currently contracted players to be announced at some point in the future.
There is an unrest amongst clubs about the way that the newfound club have gone about recruiting a team prior to its formal inception to the league let alone any official deadlines.
However, I live in the real world, and am well aware that the majority of the sport start their enquiries well ahead of the May deadline and in many respects I can understand why clubs make agents aware of their interests as it’s extremely competitive and to some people it’s dog-eat-dog.
I can also see the attraction to some players of the dream that Brian and Paul are selling. Remember Brian did the job of selling the Salford dream, recruiting heavily for Marwan in his early days, so he is experienced at building a squad from scratch.
However, whilst I think it will be easy in the first instance, I don’t believe the attraction will live up to the expectation for the players and maintaining a squad and further enhancing it down the line will become more difficult.
Travelling circa eight hours on a plane to Canada to stay three to four weeks to play three games before returning to do the same will be a tough ask.
Being a frequent traveller to the States I still struggle with jet lag and the tired effects of it and I don’t have to train as an athlete every day.
I also think players will become bored after the first couple of trips and will have too much time on their hands with no family to spend it with.
There are many implications to consider if players get a serious injury whilst out there, more so the visiting teams, and I can see that being a logistical nightmare for the visiting part time teams having seen the difficulties we experienced taking a full time team to France.
I envisage a few tight hamstrings when the away fixture against Toronto comes around!
So am I in favour of the introduction of the Toronto team? Well I have mixed feelings on the matter if I am honest. On one side I want to see rugby league grow and be able to attract bigger sponsors to the game.
On that basis the inclusion and progression of a Canadian team can only be good in terms of attempting to attract global brands or Canadian brands looking to enter the UK market or vice versa. Whilst this will be difficult initially, if they do reach the heights of Super League then I believe that could become more achievable.
My opposing feelings on the matter are that I don’t see it being sustainable and here is why.
Human beings are tribal and certainly patriotic - none more so it could be argued than Canadians. Now unless I am mistaken Toronto are recruiting a team that will have little if any Canadian presence and I am not sure that the Canadians will be so quick to want to support a team they don’t really see as their own.
If you look at the inclusion of Toulouse it is largely a team of young French players coming from a country steeped in tradition of rugby league and therefore possibly has more legs. One thing you cannot question is the passion of their driving force Eric Perez whom I have met and had dealings with when they looked at the possibility of purchasing Leigh Centurions.
He is a driven individual who wants to be involved in Super League. The question for me is really the motive behind it all. There is talk of large TV audiences and the game becoming massive in Canada and that leads me to believe that there is a vision to make good money from the sport - something not many are successful in doing on this side of the pond. I suppose it is the chicken and the egg syndrome, but for me I would have thought that a significant investment in grassroots rugby league and the establishing of a league system in Canada to grow the sport with a sprinkling of English and Australian players and maybe one or two marquee signings to raise its profile a little like the Americans have grown what they call “soccer” would be a more sustainable option. Perhaps the league winners then earn the right to be included in the Challenge Cup as an introduction to our game with the end goal being their elite team ultimately then joining our competition.
These are all personal opinions and in the end mine won’t be shared by everyone and it is certainly a subject that will have many differing opinions which I am sure will be aired over the coming weeks.
I have always taken a positive outlook and been one to look forward and to that end I wish Rolls Finny, Toronto and all those players buying into their vision well in their quest to climb the ranks to the upper echelons of our game.
In the words of Bon Jovi: “We’re half-way there,” and despite everything that we have gone through and had chucked at us we are nicely poised at the top of the league with a clear plan and no distractions of a magical cup run or stacked up fixtures.
Since losing our first game Jukesy and the boys have gone through the remaining fixtures unbeaten going quietly about their business toughing it out.
I would like to place on record the fantastic effort and commitment shown by Neil and Paul operating as two from what was a group of four last year and achieving what they have.
Talking of toughing it out that was the case on Sunday against a good Featherstone side that I believe will make the middle 8s and I was particularly pleased to see the dogged determination of the boys in those circumstances, they had a clear determination to win the game.
It was also pleasing to see the return of Rangi Chase whom I thought had a solid game and was worthy of his try from the extremely impressive Jamie Acton’s break.
What was even more impressive was the continuation of our fantastic travelling armyof fans supporting the boys.
They really appreciate the support and I can tell you it really does count and make a difference to have you all there.
This week we welcome the Batley Bulldogs as we turn to the second half and I have no doubt they will be looking to get back on the winning horse backing up their early victory over us at Mount Pleasant.
It will take another determined, tough effort to continue on our run but I somehow feel the lads won’t need much getting up for this and Jukesy won’t need many words to get the adrenalin going.
It promises to be a cracking game and I urge anyone who hasn’t yet watched the boys this season to get down for this one.
Bring a friend along to cheer the boys on and enjoy a fantastic atmosphere watching the greatest game of all.