Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Toronto Wolfpack's Sonny Bill Williams, right, works out at the team's training ground in Manchester, England.

HO/The Canadian Press

Star signing Sonny Bill Williams may not see action Sunday when the Toronto Wolfpack visit Castleford Tigers for their one official preseason game in advance of Super League play.

“Everybody’s asking about Sonny Bill and his availability,” Toronto coach Brian McDermott said from England. “Rightly so, expectedly so.

“But I’ll tell everybody I won’t rush him. He’s not to be rushed. I think the transition from rugby [union] to rugby league is going to be a big one for him. Or we’re finding out it’s a big one.”

Story continues below advertisement

While the 34-year-old Williams has switched between rugby’s codes several times during his career, he has not played league since 2014, with the Sydney Roosters in Australia’s NRL).

McDermott estimates Williams will run perhaps twice as many kilometres in a rugby league game than he would in a rugby union outing. While McDermott has described Williams as a “gym freak,” he wants to give his marquee man time to adjust.

“And like most of the people in the squad, he’s got one or two little bumps and bruises because of how hard we’re training at the moment,” he added.

McDermott said Williams will be named in the Wolfpack travelling squad with a decision on participation to be made later.

The transatlantic rugby league team kicks off its fourth season – and first in the top-tier Betfred Super League – for real on Feb. 2 against Castleford in a Super League doubleheader at Emerald Headingley Stadium in Leeds.

McDermott, who has cautioned it will take his team some time to adjust to the pace and demands of the Super League, would rather have a fully prepared Williams and a result in the season opener than a meaningless exhibition win.

McDermott continues to work with a small 23-man squad at the Wolfpack’s English training base in Manchester. That offers little cover for a game that sees teams dress 17 players, including four on the bench, for games.

Story continues below advertisement

But the Wolfpack have no more room under the £2.1-million ($3.6 million) salary cap.

“I want to stress to everyone that that’s not because of mismanagement of the squad,” McDermott said.

While Williams’s two-year, $9-million deal – which includes an ownership stake in the club – far exceeds the amount allowed, only £150,000 ($255,300) of it counts against the cap because he is designated as one of the club’s two marquee players (Australian-born Samoan international centre Ricky Leutele is the other one).

McDermott says the club has to play premium prices to get players to leave their homes and families for chunks of the season. Plus the Wolfpack do not get some of the salary cap breaks afforded other teams that promote players from their academies. Toronto has no such development pipeline.

The coach says the club is exploring ways of getting salary cap help from the authorities because of its unique status.

“At the moment, we’ve got 23 players. We’d like to increase that, but at the moment we can’t move.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sunday’s preseason game is at Castleford, whose stadium is colourfully named Mend-a-Hose Jungle (after sponsor Mend-A-Hose Hydraulics).

The contest is a testimonial for Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton, who has played more than 300 games and scored more than 100 tries in his 15-year career.

The former England international, who spent two years at St. Helens, captained the Tigers to the 2017 League Leaders’ Shield, as well as in the 2014 Challenge Cup Final and the 2017 Grand Final.

“He’s been a really robust, tough centre in the game for a lot of years,” McDermott said. “I think it would be fair for me to say that he’s not the biggest, the fastest or the most skillful centre that’s every played. But certainly he’s probably one of the toughest centres that’s played the game the last 20 years. And people respect him in the game highly because he gets as much out of his game as he’s possibly able to do so.”

The Wolfpack’s home opener at Lamport Stadium is April 18 against Hull FC.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies