Toronto Wolfpack unlikely to get relegation reprieve, says Super League boss Robert Elstone


Toronto Wolfpack are unlikely to be reprieved from relegation if they finish bottom of the table, Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone has warned.

Toronto go to Warrington on Friday night in search of their first points of the season.

They are the only club without a win in the first three weeks of the campaign and coach Brian McDermott describes the prospect of relegation as the “elephant in the room”.

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“I’m not minded that they should be exempt,” said Elstone. “I know that makes it very hard for them.

“For me, there are two types of expansion. There is the strategic, planned, structured, logical expansion into an area that has got some heritage versus one that is less structured, less stable and arguably more spurious. I’ve been very consistent on that.

“I think Toronto is in the last category and therefore has to prove to the game that it is a good long-term bet for us. It is still going through that process now.

“If it comes off and it proves to be well founded and there for the long term, that is terrific.

“But, with 26 games to go, I’m sure they’re not thinking about relegation.”

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Toronto made life difficult for themselves by going into the season with a 23-man squad, and that was reduced to 17 last Thursday when Jon Wilkin joined Darcy Lussick and Joe Mellor on the injury list, while Sonny Bill Williams, Chase Stanley and Greg Worthington were all unavailable.

Williams, who flew back to New Zealand for the birth of his fourth child, and Wilkin are back for Friday’s game and McDermott can also call on French international Tony Gigot, who has joined them on a four-week trial.

Gigot will be entitled only to “legitimate expenses” and will therefore not impact on the salary cap which will be a relief to the Wolfpack, who are virtually at the ceiling and have had their request for assistance denied by their fellow clubs.

Toronto have, however, been given an exemption that will enable them to re-sign Canadian-born forward Quinn Ngawati, and Elstone says there could be further help for the club in the longer-term.

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“I’ve spent a lot of time chatting to them about how, within certain constraints, Super League can help them,” he said. “It’s not huge, it’s not going to change their world but it is a show of good faith.

“We are looking at some fairly modest financial support about revenue streams that accrue to Super League as a result of Toronto’s participation.

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