One of Toronto Wolfpack’s star signings Josh McCrone landed in the UK for the first time this week to begin life at his new club. After signing for the club midway through last season, the experienced NRL halfback was thrown straight into training by Head Coach Paul Rowley at the club’s training base in Manchester and we caught up with him to get to know a bit about one of the Wolfpack’s newest recruits:
- Welcome to the Wolfpack Josh, how excited are you to be joining rugby league’s newest venture?
A. I’m lost for words about it all really. I’ve only been here for two days and I didn’t expect to fit in like I have, it’s caused my excitement levels to go through the roof really. I’ve been at new clubs before and it’s been hard to fit in at times but it’s been seamless so far and I’m already feeling at ease and at home and it’s got me very excited to play with this group.
- What first attracted you to the Wolfpack as a club and how was it sold to you in order for you to leave the NRL?
A. I’m at the stage of my career where I was ready for something new. The NRL is very intense and almost like a bubble at times, especially the one team towns I’ve been a part of so this was a great opportunity to come over here and help the ambitions of this club to get promoted to Super League and be successful.
- The club started to build big crowds at Lamport Stadium on their way to promotion last year, how excited are you to get over to Canada and taste the atmosphere of rugby league in North America for the first time?
A. It took me two or three games to work out how to stream the team’s matches in Australia last season but from there I was getting pumped! I was getting up early every weekend to watch them, my wife wasn’t too happy about it but the atmosphere looked incredible just from watching it on the TV so I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like running out in front of them and playing in person.
- You have over 150 NRL games under your belt and have played your entire career in Australia to date. How big a decision was it for you and your family to move away for the first time?
A. It was a big decision and something I took a lot of time deciding over. I’ve got a young family so it is a huge move but in the end having the opportunity to show them a bit of the world, how good the UK can be and how good North America is something I really wanted to do and something I’m looking forward to massively.
- Playing for this club is unique. No other clubs play large chunks of games consecutively at home and away and no one travels further than the Wolfpack, are these challenges you are relishing?
A. This is something I’ve put a fair bit of thought into as well to be honest. Having to leave a wife and kids in England for periods will be challenging but I’m looking to tackle it one step at a time as far as that goes. My first aim is for us to settle in here and have a really good time here before we go over there later in the year.
- What are your personal goals for the 2018 season?
A. I want to be involved in helping a team that gets promoted to Super League and is successful in 2018, it’s as simple as that really.
- The Wolfpack are playing in the Rugby League Championship in 2018. Have you heard much about the competition? What challenges are you expecting from it?
A. I don’t know a great deal about this division but there are a fair few professional teams in it so it must be a fair standard. I’m excited by the opportunity to play in this competition. I grew up in a small country town of only 5,000 people so it’ll be interesting to go out and play in some of these towns in the UK.
- This squad is a healthy blend of household names and exciting young talent, what do you think you can bring to the team in terms of seniority/experience, especially when playing in the halves?
A. Offering leadership is definitely what I’m looking to do. There’s a lot of untapped talent here where I think they need a bit of a voice out on the field. I’ve not been here long but from what I’ve seen I’ve been brought here to be a voice and steer the ship around which is what I’ll do; my wife will probably tell you I’m a bit bossy so hopefully I can bring that talk this year as well as a good running and passing game.
- How do you think the bright lights of Toronto will compare to the beaches of Wollongong or Sydney?
A. Like I said before I don’t know too much about Toronto or a lot of places in the UK but from what I’ve seen of the team last season, Canada looks like a place that enjoys it’s sport and I’m really looking forward to experiencing something new and playing in front of these crowds with these boys.
- What would earning promotion to Super League for the Wolfpack mean to you?
A. It would be right up there with the best achievements in my career. I’ve only played in one Grand Final which was in the second division back home which I won but any sort of football in October is good fun so to achieve something like that with this club would be huge.
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I have too young kids so I spend a lot of time with them. There’s a lot of time spent playing with dolls and trucks I can tell you.
- What are you scared of?
A. I’m not too keen on heights but other than that nothing in particular!
- What would you be if you weren’t a professional rugby league player?
A. I started an electrician apprenticeship before I turned professional so I would have probably finished that and would be a sparky somewhere.
- Who is your celebrity crush?
A. I don’t watch too much television really so I’m not too sure. I’m more interested in reading sports in the paper and will probably watch some Premier League football this year but no crushes!
- Who is the best player you have every played with and against?
A. The toughest player I’ve ever played with is Alan Tongue who was captain at the (Canberra) Raiders when I was there. He used to put his head where I wouldn’t stick my toe. The best player I’ve ever played against is definitely Darren Lockyer. I supported the (Brisbane) Broncos growing up so to play against him was special but I’ve played with a lot of good players too.