Jon Wilkin believes rugby league in Canada can still be a success with a long-term plan.
Wilkin played for former Canadian Super League outfit Toronto Wolfpack in 2020, with the sport’s first transatlantic team forced to withdraw from the competition that year due to financial problems.
The Wolfpack were subsequently voted out of the league, leaving many people’s hopes for Canada and Toronto to become a new hotbed for rugby league in tatters.
However, those foundations laid have not been completely lost with the Canada Ravens currently competing in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup on UK soil.
Speaking about the sport in Canada to the BBC Rugby League 5 Live Podcast, former Wolfpack player Wilkin believes there is still hope for the game to grow there.
“It’s a warm hospitable country that is really receptive to change,” said Wilkin.
“Actually, the city of Toronto is built on change. It is a thriving mix of so many different communities that have been thrust together.
“There is an opportunity to develop the game in Canada for sure, but it has got to be measured, it has got to be targeted and with genuine intentions to carry out a long-term plan.
Wilkin believes the women’s game, alongside Wheelchair rugby league, can lead the way in promoting the sport in not only Canada, but other countries around the world.
“The women’s game can be pioneering and get out to places the men’s game can’t get,” Wilkin added.
“The men’s market is crowded in developed countries who are all competing for the same revenue streams.
“I said this before the World Cup and before the start of last season, I think this joined up approach of promoting all sides of the game equally and pushing that into all different areas is just a winner for me.
“It is where the commercial value of the game will end up being derived from, it is all of it and it’s not just the men’s game leading the way.”