TORONTO WOLFPACK boss Brian McDermott hailed his club’s arrival in Super League but warned the competition now needs other “big city” teams like Barcelona and New York in order to grow.
The former Leeds Rhinos coach saw his big-spending side secure promotion via a tense 24-6 Championship Grand Final win over gutsy part-timers Featherstone Rovers in Ontario.
It means, three years after they formed and were elevated out of League 1, Toronto will now become the first trans-Atlantic side to compete in Super League in 2020.
Ambitious Wolfpack replace London Broncos - who beat them to promotion in a shock Million Pound Game result 12 months ago - and fans of the Canadian club hope it will help breathe new life into the competition while growing the sport and opening up new investment opportunities.
Of course, there are people against the whole idea of such expansion but - after seeing their Lamport Stadium enjoy a 10,000 sell-out for the first time - Wakefield-born McDermott insists rugby league needs such ventures or it will wilt.
“The experience and the event here is out of this world,” said McDermott, who won four Grand Finals with Leeds before being sacked last year.
“It’s brilliant. I had this feeling when I coached Harlequins for five years; I knew I was involved with something very big. It’s a special day for sure.
“I’ve just been speaking to (RFL CEO) Ralph Rimmer and he had a quote and I absolutely agree with it: ‘You can’t ignore it.’
“You can’t ignore what’s going on here. It’s not just a manufactured event or a manufactured product; it’s absolutely a strong brand and we achieved what we should have done 12 months ago which was to get into Super League.”
McDermott continued: “Toronto is a mega sporting city with all the sides it has here and we’re part of that.
“We’re hoping to have higher profile now we’re on a higher stage.
“It’s just a fantastic story. But Super League needs to be able to sell a final to some potential investors or a TV deal which says it’s going to be competed for by big city teams.
“Because in five years time, if the Super League final or the Challenge Cup final is still being competed by some small towns in the north of England, while it’s a brilliant story - and Featherstone are absolutely a fantastic story and so are (Super League Grand Finalists) Salford - but wherever are we going to sell that to is the interesting point.
“If we’re competing for a final in five years and sat around a table with the TV deals and the mega sponsors and we’re saying one of our teams starts with Toronto, and the other is London or Barcelona or New York…
“That’s how the game grows. So I know there’s a few people opposed to us being in the comp but we can’t please everybody can we?”