Historically speaking Rugby League expansion projects have rarely been a reigning success.
Whether it’s been financial complications or mismanagement, one RFL advocated project hit its wall, with the Catalans Dragons the only real success story.
Canadian outfit Toronto Wolfpack will look to change all that. Entering League One for the 2017 season, they are backed by an enthusiastic millionaire in Eric Perez, have a respected coach in Paul Rowley, and a squad, that on paper at least, looks well beyond the standard needed to play at that level.
Truth be told, many fans and writers alike expect them to blitz the sports third professional tier this season, and with their roster you can see why.
They have enough talent to cause Hull problems, who will have to be on their game to record a first victory of 2017.
Toronto’s first ever professional match will be against Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium this Sunday afternoon, and there are plenty of club connections between the pair.
Most significantly of all Richard Whiting, a hero amongst the West side of Hull, returns to the club in which he spent twelve glorious seasons, for the first time.
There are also reunions for Hull-born duo Reece Dean and Craig Hall. Dean, an academy member of FC, never saw first team action, and will no doubt want to impress against his former employers.
The Wolfpack though go way beyond the former Hull trio. Bob Beswick is likely to start at hooker, whilst league legend Fui Fui Moi Moi bolsters their pack.
They have Super League experience in Gary Wheeler, Luke Menzies, James Laithwaite and Adam Sidlow, yet have their own Canadian talent as well.
Chad Rain, a teenage prop forward, has just signed for the Wolfpack, and joins fellow natives Rhys Jacks, Tom Dempsey and Quinn Nagwati – the latter which origins to New Zealand.
Hull FC squad
Toronto will give Hull FC’s predominately young side a challenge, as they return from a prominent week at their warm weather camp in Portugal.
With two defeats already in pre-season, the Black and Whites will no doubt desire a win, not that results play much in the minds of coaches during pre-season.
Still though, Jamie Shaul, Mahe Fonua and Liam Watts have been added to complement the clubs youngsters, a crop that includes part timers Marvin Lee and Josh Wood.
Hull have also included Marc Sneyd, Fetuli Talanoa and new signings Albert Kelly and Josh Griffin.
Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Mahe Fonua, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 10. Liam Watts, 11. Dean Hadley, 15. Chris Green, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Danny Washbrook, 19. Steve Michaels, 20. Curtis Naughton, 23. Nick Rawsthorne, 25. Jansin Turgut, 28. Brad Fash, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 30. Jez Litten, 31. Ross Osborne, 32. Jordan Lane, 33. Connor Bower, 34. Jack Sanderson, 36. Jack Wray, Marvin Lee, Josh Wood.
Hull FC will get their first win of 2017 over what will be a spirited Toronto side. It’s anyone’s guess how long the likes of Shaul, Fonua, Watts and Kelly will play, but they should cause their opposition enough problems for victory. Hull by 10.