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AS THE Toronto Wolfpack close in on a place in the Championship play-offs, former St Helens captain Jon Wilkin insists the Canadian outfit would be an “unbelievable” asset to Super League.
The Wolfpack, who surprisingly lost to London Broncos in the Million Pound Game last October, are firm favourites to gain promotion at the second attempt and can clinch a top-five finish with victory over Featherstone at the Lamport Stadium tomorrow.
That would put them 80 minutes away from the play-off final in which they would once more have home advantage.
Wilkin, who agreed to join Toronto before the Million Pound Game, has no doubt they would enhance the top flight with their presence.
“I signed on the premise that we’d be in Super League,” Wilkin said. “It was a decision for me whether to play at Championship level or not and to be fair I’ve enjoyed it.
“I look forward to seeing how this team goes in Super League if that happens.
“There’s some rugby to be played yet and there’s also some political stuff going on within the game so we’ll have to see how it plays out but Toronto would be an unbelievable asset for Super League, I have no doubt about that.
“I think Super League would be a better competition for having Toronto in it, having been out to Canada and seen the appetite for the game there.”
The Wolfpack played their early season home games on the road but five of their last seven matches are all at the Lamport Stadium, where they remain unbeaten so far this year.
Attendances are more than matching last year’s average of 6,500 and Wilkin insists the figures are accurate.
“There are a lot of cynical people within rugby league who ask me if there are really eight, nine, 10 thousand people there,” the former England forward added.
“I just don’t understand it. I’ve been there and seen it with my own eyes how many people there are there.
“To be stopped in the streets in Canada by people who had no interest in rugby league whatsoever who now understand what rugby league is, I think that’s huge.”
Toronto have put together a 14-match winning run under former Leeds coach Brian McDermott, although it has not been all plain sailing, with the club having hit visa problems and become entangled in a racial abuse controversy which forced chairman David Argyle to step down.
However, Wilkin insists the club remain financially sound and can boast one of the best match-day experiences of any sport.
“David’s had to step back but he’s continued his financial commitments and there are a lot of good people who work at the club, it wasn’t just David,” he said.
“There are a lot of people putting a lot of effort into the detail of the match-day experience which is something the game over here can learn from.
“I’ve been to Twickenham to watch England rugby union and I don’t go because I love the rugby, I go because it’s an occasion, a big event, and they put on a match-day experience.
“I can’t really say that about many clubs in Super League. Some do but not like Toronto.
“It’s probably pound for pound the best match-day experience that I’ve experienced whilst I’ve been playing and that includes Challenge Cup finals and Grand Finals.”
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