Toronto vs Featherstone Million Pound Game journal

With all the Million Pound game two days away, Stephen Owen gives us the insight into league life in Toronto.
Day 2 at Toronto and it seems we have brought the British weather ! The Torontonians tell us the sun has been shining and that the fever was in the 20s on Monday, but it has been cold and rainy now. That hasnt dampened the mood across the Wolfpack camp.
We went to watch the Toronto squad train along with the Wolfpack appeared to say the least. It had been confirmed before the practice session the winner of Saturdays match is ensured a spot in Super League for the 2020 season – which has contributed to everyone having that extra spring in their step.

The journey into Lamport Stadium in the city center is a simple one – with this being such a significant city is tough to reach, whether that be in a taxi or on public transport.
Interestingly, the Wolfpack were practising drop goal sets that shows theyre anticipating Saturdays match against Featherstone to become tight – and of course their celebrity full-back Gareth OBrien has history with fall goals in the Million Pound Game – who would forget his impressive one-pointer to rescue Salford from relegation at 2016!
There appears to be a togetherness amongst the Wolfpack players, spending so much time in one anothers company looks like it has certainly brought a team spirit.

Toronto is a city that is vibrant and the players seem to move around freely on the local tram network or bikes. Prop forward Ashton Sims is just one of many players who appreciate the Canadian lifestyle as much that theyve decided to reside in town.
Speaking to members of staff in the club before now, they are hoping to place thehouse full signs on Saturday with a different album crowd heading into the Lamport Stadium. Its simple to see theyve displayed some of those gameday posters which theyve made to market previous games and why many fans flock into the ground, I had a look at the impressive club store just. The team are exuberant and affable – essential attributes for a organisation trying to make their way in a crowded sports marketplace.

The lovers who arrive at the sport have been treated to that which rugby league veteran Jon Wilkin explained asthe very best pound for pound matchday experience he has ever encounter. If you think about that Wilkin has played in the elite level in France England, Australia and New Zealand – that is a compliment.
Additionally, I learned that one of the men and women who tried that matchday experience the time the Wolfpack played at Lamport, was Rugby League World Cup winner Valentine Holmes. The former Queensland flier resides in North America today as he is part of the NFLs New York Jets practice squad.
If his NFL aspirations dont come into fruition, I only wonder, is he someone who may decide while living in North America, to return to Rugby League? He also won an NRL Grand Final at 2016 with Cronulla together with the Wolfpack center Ricky Leutele, as soon as I mentioned this to Toronto Director of Rugby Brian Noble, he referenced the way North Americans like big names to advertise their franchises; and Holmes would definitely fit this bill, and so who knows?!
Holmes will not be at Saturdays Million Pound Game as hes back in New York with the Jets – but one person who will be in the match is that the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory. This is huge news. A significant figure round the city, this is a clear indication of the Wolfpack have actually come to the attention of the city in North America.
Political support is something which could be crucial in bringing a resolution to theBundles situation regarding their home floor of Lamport Stadium. This isnt the priciest of home places, but it is in a suburb of Toronto called Liberty Village – and the scene for nearly all the season lends itself nicely to what exactly the Wolfpack need.
But over here it can be snowing all the way through to April, and for a stadium that doesnt have underground heating or even a roof to shelter in the snow that is debatable thinking about the soccer league season starts just a couple weeks into the calendar year.
As weve seen this year, the Wolfpack have played withhome games in England as dual headers which is not ideal. Looking around town there does not seem to be many options, apart from maybe the Rogers Centre – to the Toronto Blue Jays. This stadium has the potential of well over 50,000 has a roof but and would come in a price that is significant – therefore this alternative may not be achievable just yet.
Perhapshome matches in warmer North American cities might be a little more realistic in the near future, but thats maybe a conversation for another day. 1 thing is for sure, Lamport Stadium will be the place to be on Saturday!

The Featherstone Rovers team landed in Toronto as well as they finalise preparations within their bid for Super League football. Well be visiting their training tomorrow to get the latest from theFlat Cappers because they want to receive one more win in whats been a finish to the year for those guys from Yorkshire.

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