The future of Toronto Wolfpack and their participation in Super League is well and truly up in the air at the moment.
There will be many in Canada’s largest city who are sweating on the possible likelihood of a return to the league they withdrew from only a few months ago.
Now, with their house seemingly in order, they will try to persuade the rest of the Super League members that they deserve a shot at redemption which, you’d have to say, looks slightly unlikely.
That isn’t a view that is held exclusively outside of Toronto, but rather in it. Indeed, Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott has recently pleaded with Super League teams to make a ‘brave and compassionate decision’ with regards to their bid to be readmitted to the league.
Despite his pleas, McDermott is realistic about their chances, after what he describes as knowingly antagonizing member teams last season.
The Beginning. pic.twitter.com/7Zjphw2x4z
— Toronto Wolfpack (@TOwolfpack) July 16, 2020
The 50-year-old coach may well be showing an impressive self-awareness and disarming honesty, but it does feel like it could be too little too late in some respects.
When all is said and done, this is perhaps solely down to Toronto’s pursuit of Sonny Bill Williams and subsequently tying him down to a $10 million contract to be paid out over two seasons.
It was an aggressive move to say the very least, as the former All Black was to be paid 40 times the average Super League salary, thanks to Toronto using contractual loopholes to bypass the usual salary cap, which is around $85,000 a year.
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see why this was seen as a deal that wasn’t necessarily done in the spirit of fair play and competition.
To make matters worse, it spectacularly backfired as well, given that Sonny Bill Williams looked off the pace and did very little to contribute to a winning cause.
In fact, Toronto managed to lose every game they played in before they withdrew from the league.
Today is gonna be interesting 🤔😂 pic.twitter.com/SwIQhHQrad
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) February 27, 2020
The truth is, they were the early favourites to finish bottom of the league and looked well out of their depth right from the off, despite their spending spree.
In comparison, if we were to look at the team that now occupies that spot, Hull KR, who sit bottom of the table now and are at outrageously long odds of 750/1 to win the Grand Final in rugby league betting, they’ve still managed to be competitive, having racked up two wins whilst operating on a shoestring budget.
Try as you might, you can’t really picture the East Yorkshire outfit being ready to accept Toronto back into the league with open arms, given the different ways these two teams have gone about their business this season.
Toronto’s saving grace may be that the Super League favours a league which comprises of 12 teams. That may be their magic ticket back into the big time but you still suspect that the majority of Super League members have been left with a bad taste in their mouths which proves impossible to get rid of.
Toronto lived the dream but were writing cheques that they ultimately couldn’t cash. They will now go with cap in hand and ask for forgiveness.