Toronto Wolfpack: Can Canadian club complete journey to Super League?

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By Dave Woods
BBC soccer league correspondent
Out of a spot in Super League, Toronto Wolfpack are just 80 minutes By pipe-dream into the edge of fact.
After three years of playing their way through the lower leagues, the Wolfpack find themselves.
And on the rear part of their bid for a spot in football league’s elite, a game that was created in England’s towns is beginning to find it’s place in among North America cities.
“I believe there’s a massive chance here,” said Jon Wilkin, a multiple Challenge Cup and Grand Final winner together with St Helens, that this season has been helping spearhead the Wolfpack’s on-field bid for marketing.
“I guess the idea is wild and whacky, but it’s a very professional set-up we have out here. It’s simply not a conventional heartland,” Wilkin told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby League Podcast this week ahead of Saturday’s game.
“We’d 9,500 people at our game a week (against Toulouse), and so for me that is astonishing.
“The Toronto Argonauts, in the Canadian CFL – the equivalent of the NFL – they’d 12,000 people go to their match and they play in a tremendous 40,000 stadium and it is on TV over here.
“So for the Wolfpack to receive 9,500, that’s huge. An presence like that is not something to be sniffed at.”
Promotion is far from a formality.
Toronto, headed by four-time Grand Final-winning former Leeds coach Brian McDermott, were leaders of the Championship, finishing 12 points clear from Toulouse.
But who moves around Super League is determined by means of a series of play-off matches, culminating in a decider.
The Wolfpack were in precisely the exact same position this past year.
This year it and also the comparison between the two clubs couldn’t be sharper.
Featherstone – who is fans rejoice beneath the self-styled nickname’that the flat-cappers’ – is a village that rests in the middle of the league heartland.
A stone’s throw from Wakefield Trinity and Super League clubs Castleford, in the shadow of their neighbours not far beyond, they are frequently cast with Leeds.
However, their history shows up some moments. Their most recent afternoon in the sun was a Challenge Cup final Wembley triumph in 1983 and they have a desire to compete with the elite .
This season despite finishing fifth in the regular season, they’ve defied the odds of beating Leigh, York and Toulouse – all – to claim a place within this so-called’Million Pound Game’.
And Wilkin isn’t surprised they are Toronto’s competitions with this contest.
“Nonot at all,” he said. “Everybody from the outside looking in will say Toulouse and York have been up there, the next best two teams in the competition.
“But the roughest two matches we’ve played have been against Featherstone. They have been the very games that we have played in, there’s not many breaks in the match and where it’s very much a tussle, and they seem to enjoy that as far as any team we have played this level.
“We are eager to be there and to be playing them.”
Earlier this week that the Wolfpack reported that 8,000 tickets had already been sold for Saturday.
That’s marketed, they say, not given away.
And they expect to turn fans away on the afternoon when the”house full” signs go up.
But lose or win, the Wolfpack will proceed, and Wilkin says his season with Toronto has revealed evidence the French league seeds in the city are beginning to take hold.
“I think that it’s growing,” he said. “The region of the town at which the scene is – an area called Liberty Village – is really a type of a hipster place, Google have their own offices . There is residential places around there too, although it’s a cool work place.
“I’d say nearly everyone in that area knows about the Wolfpack. You are stopped by Folks today and chat to you. They know about the game, they state things like’fortune in the closing’.
“However, the challenge is Caribbean, the principal portion of the city. Obviously the Blue Jays and the Maple Leafs are these huge brands and I do not think there is as much visibility there, but that’s growing.
“I jumped onto a road car another day, the tram, and also the tram driver’high fived’ me. It turned out to be a Wolfpack. Just as a little bench mark, I thought that was intriguing.”
The odds are stacked in the favour with this final match of this season of the Wolfpack. Featherstone, a mainly part-time team, had just a three-day turnaround before jetting off to Canada, from flying back.
The Wolfpack have had a week away and no need to travel from their Toronto base.
And Wilkin says his and his team-mates are concentrated.
“You can build things up too much. It’s a Grand Final and also the consequences people winning, we would go into Super League,” he explained.
“However, the consequences of the game’s outcome do not impact the processes on the area, or else they should not do. You are able to become overawed by its emotion, by the scale of this endeavor, but like anything else in life, if you break it down to little chunks that were bite-size it achievable.
“Big matches and pressurised environments alter people’s behavior. The challenge for us is we don’t need to alter anything to win the match.
“We are very respectful of Featherstone, they have a great young coach also, but if we perform at our best I believe we win the match and that is what we must do.”

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