Written by John Davidson
Rugby league agent Craig Harrison has doubts about Toronto Wolfpack’s long-term viability if they are relegated from Super League this year.
At the point of the competition being postponed because of the Coronavirus, Toronto sit at the bottom of the competition with no wins after six rounds, and a sole victory over Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup.
The Wolfpack have suffered salary cap issues and been forced to send players out on loan to free up cap space, sign Tony Gigot as a trialist and take two Wigan youngsters on loan.
“If they went down this year, I don’t think Toronto would ever come back up,” English agent Harrison told the TV program Rugby League Backchat.
“That’s my call. It would be a very tough gig for them to come back up, with the way they’ve put their cap together.
“They’ve got a lot of short-term players to keep them in that league. If you look at other clubs they’ve be in a lot better position with a younger age on the cap to come back up.”
Toronto have used both their marquee spots on Sonny Bill Williams and Ricky Leutele but started the 2020 season with just 21 players available, with Chase Stanley then in Australia and Greg Worthington loaned to Featherstone.
Harrison believes the Canadian club haven’t managed their salary cap well enough.
“I think they took a massive gamble offering one player at the age he’s at to come in and probably represent the franchise,” he said.
“As much as they’ve used it for the publicity, and thank you for getting us on every page in the world, I’ve massive on that.
“There’s no negatives on that, but the pressure’s on Sonny Bill to deliver and I think it’s very hard for somebody at his age coming back in from rugby union after what he’s done.
“He’s probably given himself 10 to 12 games before he can show his form – and I’m sure he will. He’s always delivered.
“But you’re talking a 34-year-old Sonny Bill, you’re talking about travelling around the world, I know he’s used to it. But he’s one with the pressure on.
“If you’re on that kind of money you have to be among the top three players in the comp, and I don’t think he is.”
— Toronto Wolfpack (@TOwolfpack) March 17, 2020
Harrison said there is “no chance” owner David Argyle would keep financially backing Toronto if they went back down to the Championship at the end of the year.
“And I don’t think we’ve helped him as a game,” he said.
“We could have done loads more.”
Harrison is not surprised the Wolfpack have struggled in the first six rounds, with all their games played away from home and in the UK.
“I don’t know what people expected,” he said.
“I didn’t see anything else. I think they’ll be gambling on getting everyone back to Toronto in a run of games and picking up points there.”