Super League journey begins; Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers

Super League journey begins; Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers

The Wolfpack will continue its Super League journey against Castleford on Sunday, February 2, 2020. The Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers game will take place at a neutral venue at Emerald Headingley Stadium, the home of the Leeds Rhinos.

The preview of this game was the tight preseason 16-10 win in Castleford at Mend-A-Hose Jungle a fortnight ago. The Wolfpack will be looking to continue that momentum into the Leeds ground, as they look to start their Super League campaign with a positive result.

Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers Season Preview

Wolfpack Super League journey begins

Canada’s team will be looking to get on the front foot as Super League begins this week. The Wolfpack is healthy and is ready to take the challenge of Super League with open arms. However. there has been some controversy with the Wolfpack and with Super League. According to James Gordon of Love Rugby League, current head coach Brian McDermott said this:

“I’m very concerned about the squad depth. We’re on the cap and potentially breaching it – we’re working through some processes at the moment as it’s live to make sure we’re OK at the start of the season.”

There is a reason for the Wolfpack being relatively quiet in the off-season, with the notable exception of the Sonny Bill Williams deal. Joe Neadly of Serious About Rugby League explains. “What’s the reason for this?

“Well, despite Toronto seeming an attractive proposition, players who sign for the Wolfpack have to live in two different countries throughout the season, which is not easy for those with families, resulting in the club having to pay their key players extremely good money.”

There is merit on both sides of the equation. The Wolfpack with a few injuries could be in a position where the player roster would be quite small. They are asking for a bigger salary cap to compensate for their problems. The Super League teams are most likely against this, as they will be also trying to avoid relegation. However, reports of the Wolfpack getting a salary cap dispensation may be a ‘key to success’.

The key to success: Salary Cap Dispensation

The Toronto Wolfpack may get their wish. Matthew Shaw reported on Total Rugby League:

“Toronto Wolfpack could receive more than £100,000 in salary cap dispensation after clubs were informed of proposals to increase the club’s allowed salary cap spend by five per cent.”

Although, according to Matthew Shaw, some clubs are against this proposal. Lastly, Robert Elstone also said this proposal will not happen if Super League clubs are unhappy with the proposal. The Wolfpack is concerned that a lean roster of 23 players, each injury could be detrimental to the squad in their inaugural Super League season.

Those concerns will be challenged immediately, in the Toronto Wolfpack’s first-ever Super League game this Sunday.

Toronto Wolfpack’s injury Woes

The Toronto Wolfpack could be missing three players against the Castleford Tigers. According to Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press, the Wolfpack have two injuries. The most serious one is forward Darcy Lussick, who has a groin injury that might require surgery. Toronto Wolfpack head coach McDermott explains; “We think he’s done his hernia, which in itself is not a big deal. But if he needs that operated on, it’s usually anywhere between a month and six weeks.”

Toronto Wolfpack’s Darcy Lussick powers through the Toulouse defence during the Betfred Championship Summer Bash match at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool. (Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images)

Another Toronto Wolfpack forward who is injured is Bodene Thompson. He is doubtful for the game on February 2nd with a calf strain. Lastly, Australian-born New Zealand international back Chase Stanley is dealing with visa issues and is yet to arrive in England.

However, despite these setbacks, McDermott is confident that he still has a good side for their clash against the Castleford Tigers.

“We don’t have a full squad to choose from but we’ve certainly got a good team that we’re going to field on Sunday,” McDermott said optimistically.

The Wolfpack are not the only ones suffering from injuries. The Castleford Tigers are experiencing several more injuries than even the Toronto Wolfpack. As a result, many players from the Tigers organization will not be making an appearance against the Toronto Wolfpack.

Wolfpack roster stronger than Tigers’

The Toronto Wolfpack will be heading to Emerald Headingley Stadium with potentially three players missing from this roster. However, this does not include Sonny Bill Williams who missed the preseason game against the Castleford Tigers.

According to Christian Nicolussi of smh, it was to be present for the birth of his child. However, the article also states that Sonny Bill Williams is expected to start on February 2. Although, the situation is much worse with the Castleford Tigers.

The hosts will head into the game with five players injured in their first Super League game this year.

The Castleford Tigers will be at a massive disadvantage this year. They will be missing five players for the start of the game against the Toronto Wolfpack. According to Ben McKenna of The Yorkshire Post, five players are injured like Junior Moors, Alex Foster, Mike McMeeken, Matt Cook, and Jesse Sene-Lefao.

Injury Woes for head coach Daryl Powell

Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell said in a McKenna article that Moors is set to return in early March. Furthermore, Alex Foster should also return soon.

“Junior has been in full training, although he hasn’t had much of full training but his hip has been fine,” Powell revealed.

“Fozzy [Foster] is probably back for round four, as we get into March. He is training hard and back to where he needs to be. He is on grass now, it was a pretty big injury he had. Both of those two will hopefully play a really big part for us this season.”

Lastly, McMeeken should return in their second Super League game. This will be against the Wigan Warriors on Friday, February. 7. However, the Tigers head coach said that Cook and Sene-Lefao are facing longer lay-offs. Powell said:

“Mike McMeeken will probably be round two, he is getting back into training now.”

“Matt Cook won’t be available, he has had no pre-season really. Jesse is a doubt with a quad problem. There are few boys who won’t be available to us.”

However, coach Powell is confident with his team they can be victorious in this Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers clash. He is happy with the depth of the Tigers before their Super League opener against the Wolfpack. He added:

“We can still put a really good team out but we won’t have all of our best players out there, which isn’t what you want.

“But when you play a tough contact sport that is what you get.”

Reports: last-minute injuries hamper Castleford preparation

However, since that article has been published, Castleford suffered another injury. Journalist John Davidson has the details: “Speculation that Castleford winger Sosaia Feki has torn his calf in training and could be out for some time.”

More details of Feki’s injuries have come out. Matthew Shaw from Total Rugby League reveals that Feki has got a calf injury. Tigers’ head coach Powell says the injury is significant as the swelling has not gone down:

“We don’t really know the full extent until the swelling goes down but as of Thursday that still wasn’t happening. It’s a significant injury,” said Tigers coach Daryl Powell.

Injuries and changes to the starting squads are events that all Super League teams must manage internally. Experience in both the Super League, and in the Championship will be useful for Toronto. The first game ever is the beginning of a new journey for the trans-Atlantic competition.

Last Word – Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers predictions

Against a heavily injured Castleford Tigers team, the Wolfpack should try to take advantage. The feeling is, the Wolfpack should win this game 14-10 (only a try in it).

Both the Toronto Wolfpack and the Castleford Tigers are undermanned for February 2nd. However, the Tigers have a lot more serious injuries than the Wolfpack. The last time both teams played each other, the Tigers lost to the Wolfpack 16-10 last month. Add in the possible injury of Sosaia Feki/reduction in the host’s strength, and it makes this game a must-win for the Toronto Wolfpack.

Both teams would know something about the opposition; after Wolfpack’s win earlier this month. Expect a tight game that might be just too close to call.

 

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