Plans for new Canadian team as Wolfpack recruit star power
Recruitment shows Wolfpack's ambitions as plans for another Canadian team emerge.
Fiji international Ashton Sims, former Australian forward Dave Taylor and St George Illawarra halfback Josh McCrone have been confirmed as Toronto Wolfpack's star signings for the 2018 season amid revelations a second Canadian team could also be vying to join Super League.
Sims, who is expected to play for the Bati alongside brothers Tariq and Korbin at the Rugby League World Cup, will move to Canada after three seasons with Warrington, while Taylor and McCrone become the first players recruited directly from the NRL to the Wolfpack.
The trio will lead Toronto's ambition to become the first North American team to play in a top flight competition by winning promotion to Super League from the tier two Championship, where they will play in 2018 after dominating League One this season.
The success of the Wolfpack has prompted speculation about a second team in either New York, Montreal or Vancouver and Wolfpack owner Eric Perez confirmed planning was underway for another Canadian side to follow the the same path as Toronto.
"I can tell you that there is a second Canadian team in the works right now that could be announced in the next six months to start playing in 2019," Perez told The Jeff Blair
Show on Sportsnet.ca
"That shows how successful we though the first season went that the League is now ready to bring a second Canadian team on board, so it is pretty exciting and I am working day to day on that."
Perez said the new team was expected to start in League One and try to win their way into the Championship and then Super League.
"The maths is definitely working out much better than we thought it would and by the time we get to Super League we will be more than turning a profit," he said.
To help them achieve that goal Wolfpack director of rugby, Brian Noble, and coach, Paul Rowley, have recruited Sims, Taylor and McCrone as well as Salford prop Olsi Krasniqi and Widnes centre Tom Armstrong.
They will join the likes of former New Zealand prop Fuifui Moimoi, ex-England forward Ryan Bailey, Ireland hooker Bob Beswick, Scotland halfback Ryan Brierley and USA fullback Ryan Burroughs.
"As soon as I was made aware that Dave Taylor was interested in the challenge of representing the Wolfpack, I jumped at the chance to make this happen," Noble said.
"The Canadian fans will just love the ‘Coal Train’; his explosive style, his power, speed and tremendous range of skills will give our group a new dimension moving forward and I genuinely can’t wait for him to hit the straps at Lamport Stadium next year.
"I am relishing the prospect of Dave lining up alongside Ashton Sims and our existing big pack of forwards next year."
Taylor, 28, has had stints with Brisbane, South Sydney, Gold Coast, Catalans and Canberra.
"There’s clearly some crazy good things happening with rugby league in Toronto and I can’t wait to get there," Taylor said.
"I’m pretty sure they’ll like my style of play & hopefully it will excite Canada."
The signing of McCrone ahead of established Super League clubs is also a coup for a Canada-based franchise that has played just one season in the third tier of the English competition.
"Josh is a vastly experienced NRL player with 150 plus games under his belt at the highest level in the game and I am looking forward to him joining the Wolfpack in 2018," Noble said.
"His astute kicking game and his silky playmaking skills sat behind our big pack of forwards will give us plenty of options as we face up to the new challenge of life in the Championship next year.
"Josh will also bring great leadership qualities to our group, and we know he will be a strong influence on our developing team.”
McCrone said: "I am looking forward to the opportunity to be part of the first Trans-Atlantic pro sports team and our journey to the Super League."
Sims, who represented Fiji at the 2013 World Cup and captained the Bati in the Pacific Test the following year, has played for the Dragons, Broncos and Cowboys before moving to Warrington.
"I am so honoured to have represented not only this club, but the people of Warrington and hope they know that I put every ounce of energy into this jersey doing the sport I love," Sims said.
"As my youngest daughter Kaya was born here, I'll always have ties to this great town.
"I'm genuinely really looking forward to this journey with the Toronto Wolfpack but before that I really want to finish off these last two games the right way after a rough season."
By Brad Walter
Chief Correspondent, RLWC2017