TORONTO — Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone, while acknowledging the club’s ownership let it down, says the financially troubled transatlantic rugby league team still has plenty to offer.
The 33-year-old Australian was one of the Wolfpack imports left in limbo this summer due to visa issues. And like his fellow players, McCrone has not been paid since June 10 after majority owner David Argyle ran out of funds.
The club announced July 20 it could not afford to finish out the Super League season. League officials subsequently tore up Toronto’s participation agreement and expunged all of its results from the standings.
The Wolfpack have since applied to return to Super League in 2021, under potential new owner Carlo LiVolsi.
“I understand both the Super League and the RFL (Rugby Football League) have to do their due diligence to ensure we never find ourselves in this same situation again,” McCrone said in an open letter released Sunday. “However this remains a unique opportunity to grow the greatest game in the world, in one of the greatest cities in the world.
“If we do get the green light from the authorities, I would be proud to pull on the Wolfpack jersey and lead my club through the season in 2021.”
McCrone’s letter is part of a Wolfpack effort to lobby rugby league authorities as they ponder whether to readmit the team to Super League. LiVolsi has said he is not interested in the franchise if it is demoted to a lower division.
Players like Darcy Lussick and Joe Mellor posted their support on social media for Toronto and the team.
The club has also asked fans to share on social media their favourite memories from following the team.
In his letter, McCrone talked up Toronto and the club supporters.
“We have experienced firsthand how Canadian fans have taken to rugby league,” he wrote.” The city of Toronto loves sport and they extended their love to the Wolfpack. The game-day excitement is something I have never seen before in rugby league. The atmosphere at a sold-out Lamport stadium is infectious.”
Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott, meanwhile, was grilled on Friday by Sky Sports host Brian Carney, a former Irish international.
“We recognize ourselves as a club that we haven’t got it right. That we need to be better,” said McDermott, who was serving as a guest pundit on the day. “We need to enhance Super League, not detract away from it from some of the headlines that we have got.
“But at the same I also want to let people know how exciting it could be. We’ve got a new owner, a new ownership group who are going to take over the cub. The evidence is there that Toronto Wolfpack works. It works in Canada. The evidence is there, the numbers are there, the crowds are there, the success is there.”
He said 100,000 fans came through the gates at Lamport Stadium last year. And noted that the club has paid to bring 1,500 players to Canada in taking care of opponents’ travel costs.
McDermott made a case for the Wolfpack getting a “second chance.”
“Have we got it so wrong as a club that we deserve not to be let back in the league?” he asked.
McCrone did not spare Argyle, saying his actions had left “myself and many of my mates in limbo and suffering extreme financial hardship.”
“As captain of this club I have had many dealings with David Argyle. I was personally very disappointed in how he misled us and it has left a sour taste in my mouth. However even with the turbulence of the last several months I would not go back and change my decision to join this club.
“It is more than one person, it has become our family. It has so much to offer not just to the Super League but to the game of rugby league as a whole.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press