Written by Stuart McLennan
The Ottawa Aces are calling on Canadian athletes to come and try out rugby league after the recent rubber stamping of the club’s entry to the RFL League One competition in 2021.
Ottawa Chairman and former Toronto Wolfpack CEO, Eric Perez, confirmed with Everything Rugby League that the ‘combine’ planned for Autumn in Canada will be for Canadian nationals only.
“Ottawa is Canada’s team and we are looking to feature Canadian talent in the side. A major criticism of the Wolfpack is that they don’t feature Canadians, it is a questionable criticism considering RL is an emerging sport here, but we want to make a greater effort than Toronto has to try and make it happen,” Perez explained.
“This doesn’t mean we won’t feature athletes from other North American nations it just means that these tryouts are specifically for Canadians.”
Ottawa are yet to sign a player with some movement expected in June while the announcement of a head coach is imminent. Former Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous is the popular tip for the job.
Perez is hopeful that the tryouts will attract quality athletes that can be moulded into rugby league players before the 2021 season starts.
“We are expecting excellent athletes, giving their all and showing strong Canadian spirit and attitude. Quantity isn’t the key, it’s quality and we hope to see athletes with the tools to be able to adapt to our game and contribute to the side.”
The Ottawa Chairman has seen enough rugby league in the professional and semi-professional leagues to know the Canadian players have a big challenge in front of them to match opposition players that have been playing rugby league for most of their lives.
“There are full time professionals in the (League One) division as well. Just look at a club like Newcastle. They could compete in the Championship quite well. Only time will tell if Canadians can match them but we certainly want to give them the chance.”
After Perez successfully launched the Toronto Wolfpack, a club that achieved its goal of being promoted to Super League within a short time frame, it would be foolish to write off Ottawa’s fortunes. It appears he is adopting a slow and steady approach with the Aces that is unlikely to involve high profile signings in the early stages.
“Our goal is to be competitive and with Lady Luck on our side, to win promotion. Off the field our goal is to show the people of Ottawa what an amazing sport, and storied league we are involved in.”
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