Toronto Wolfpack’s former Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott insists his side are ready for Super League on and off the field

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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Toronto coach Brian McDermott insists the Canadian club meets the criteria laid down for entry to Super League.

The Wolfpack take on Featherstone in the Million Pound Game at the Lamport Stadium on Saturday for the right to replace London Broncos in the top flight in 2020.

Featherstone have been told they will be accepted into Super League if they win the Championship Grand Final but Toronto are still waiting to hear if they meet minimum standards.

“It’s not something that’s distracting us,” said former Leeds and London Broncos boss McDermott. “It’s not something I get angry about, I read about it with fascination actually.

“I’m certainly not overly happy with some of the questions but those questions are to be expected.

“I’ve got no drama that the other clubs are going to ask ‘are they going to be competitive’, ‘is the ground going to be good enough’, ‘are they going to be gone in 18 months’ time?’

“I get all that, I’m just fascinated by how difficult sometimes it is for the expansion clubs to operate.”

Speaking at the launch of the Super League play-offs at Old Trafford, chief executive Robert Elstone said question marks still surround the eligibility of the Canadian club but a definitive announcement would be made, in conjunction with the Rugby Football League, before the promotion-deciding play-off match.

“Maybe we’re going through due diligence, maybe that’s all it is,” McDermott said.

“But some of the questions that Robert Elstone posed on the highest of stages, at a very high-profile event, was like ‘we don’t know if these lads have got their in order’.

“I just don’t think he should be saying those things so publicly when clearly we’ve got everything ready. We tick all the boxes. “

Elstone also revealed that Toronto would not take their share of central funding if they were promoted but McDermott believes expansion clubs should be treated differently to ensure their longevity.

McDermott points to the dispensation Melbourne Storm were afforded when they entered the NRL and argues that a strict adherence to the regulations prevented London Broncos from making the desired impact in Super League.

“I’m trying not to be too controversial but if you’ve got a team that can start with Toronto in Super League, I think that’s brilliant,” McDermott said.

“I’ve been in Super League from the start and I think the most extravagant start we’ve had has been Paris St Germain and Catalans and our competition could now have a team that starts with Toronto.

“I’m all for expansion, I think that’s the future of the game. That’s not something I’ve been saying just since I’ve been coaching Toronto.

“The big question is whether those teams that are clearly outside the heartlands have to abide by the same rules and regulations and quotas and salary cap as everybody else.

“Or do you cut your cloth accordingly to ensure that they don’t die in three or four years time because it’s just too expensive or not practical, especially with recruitment?

“When I first got to London Broncos, 20 of the 25 guys were overseas, five were English but, because of the rules and regulations, within 18 months we had to turn that around to 20 English and five overseas with no dispensation at all.

“That was a massive overhaul that the club really struggled to deal with over the next four and five years.

“I don’t care what they say about fans believing in home-grown talent, the fact is fans want to see a winning team.”