Former Toronto Wolfpack doctor reveals inside stories on failed Super League venture and Sonny Bill Williams

It’s not that long ago since rugby league tried to break the Americas and Toronto Wolfpack became the first trans-atlantic side to compete in the English leagues and Ian Sampson, current Huddersfield team doctor, has spoken about his experience with the Canadian outfit.

Toronto made some big splashes when they entered the league system and had some incredible players including the likes of Andy Ackers, who has just returned from the World Cup with England and is a star for Salford.

Despite making it to the promised land of Super League the Wolfpack never got to play at the top table as the pandemic arrived making trans-atlantic sport an impossible task, which ultimately piled onto the clubs financial issues and saw them fold.

Ian Samspon was in charge of the team’s medical work in the UK and speaking on ‘The Giants Podcast’ for Huddersfield fans, where he is now team doctor, he revealed if he thought the Wolfpack would have been successful if not for the pandemic.

“It’s difficult to say, there’s two sides of this tale and there’s positives and negatives. The owner put a lot of time, lot of money, a lot of love and energy in and at the end of it I think covid killed it off. There were issues with travel and issues like visas and all that kind of stuff. It wasn’t straightforward in Canada.

“At the end of the day it was a learning process, no plan survives first contact to coin a military phrase. But I think when Toronto got into it they had the plan there and went through things but there was no predicting some of the stuff that happened. People will tell you different stories about it.

“I was protected because it wasn’t my primary source of income, I can go back to the NHS. The lads and the people who are full-time professionals will probably tell you something different, especially when pay became an issue.”

Despite the problems that the side went through they still were very successful during their stints in League 1 and the Championship, beating Featherstone Rovers in the million pound game to secure promotion before their unfortunate collapse, and Sampson recalled one big name he got to work with.

“I wouldn’t change it personally, I met some amazing people. They had Sonny Bill who signed and even though it was only fleeting, just to be around and listen and see what kind of guy he was.

“He had such a limited opportunity in Super League and it was a big difference to what he’d been used to. It was really difficult for people like him who came over because they brought family over, he was isolated as well.”

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1 month ago

Sonny Bill getting paid mega money and some of the ordinary lads waiting ages to be paid??