Fletcher’s Fields rugby ground in Markham plays host to Toronto Wolfpack’s homecoming as the Betfred Championship leaders play their first game on Canadian soil in 2018 against Swinton Lions. The regular season round thirteen game kicks off at 4:30pm EDT / 9:30pm BST.
It is the Wolfpack’s second instalment of their home away from home schedule, with nearby Markham getting its first taste of professional domestic rugby league.
Fletcher’s Fields is north of Downtown Toronto and is widely regarded as the home of rugby in Ontario, making it the ideal destination to host this week’s match. The fixture allows the rugby mad area to experience the spectacle of Championship rugby league for the first time.
After producing a season’s best performance at the home of London Skolars in the UK capital last time out against Halifax RLFC, the Wolfpack turn their attention to the Lions to round off a week long excursion in North America before flying back to the UK for a further three games.
Having landed in Toronto earlier in the week, the Wolfpack squad have had a packed schedule, with the aim of really embracing and reacquainting themselves into the city’s culture.
This week was a chance for a lot of Toronto’s new players in 2018 to sample their first taste of the Toronto and North American life style before focusing on the job at hand on Saturday to try and register their tenth successive win in all competitions.
The entire Wolfpack playing group and coaching staff held a meet and greet with season ticket holders at 3 Brewers in Liberty Village on Wednesday night, familiarising themselves with their loyal fanbase who have waited patiently to meet their heroes for the first time since September 2017.
There is no reason why the players shouldn’t be fired up for Saturday’s clash, after many of the squad took a trip to the Air Canada Centre to watch Toronto Raptors take on the star studded Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Play Offs on Thursday night.
Among all the festivities there is still the overriding focus of a match to win and the players took part in a team run earlier today at Fletcher’s Fields as their final preparations for the game. The Pack will approach the game with a fresh focus, knowing that they will have to replicate a similar standard of performance from last week to get the job done over a desperate Swinton side.
The Lions have had a tough 2018 campaign to date, and have yet to win a match this year. Currently sitting at the bottom of the table after a heavy defeat at home to Toulouse last week, they will be aiming to produce a season defining performance to stop the Wolfpack’s momentum and spark their season into life.
Wolfpack Head Coach Paul Rowley was well aware of the challenge Swinton pose this week but was confident in his side after a strong display in London. He said:
“Our last performance was the most satisfied I’ve been with the players this year. Going in at half time with 94% completions with the ball was terrific but it was built on our attitude in defence, which was outstanding and I thought we dominated and outplayed Halifax.
“Swinton are a bit of a wounded animal at the moment. We played pretty well against them last time and it was perhaps the start of our good run of form. Swinton targeted the reverse game to kick start their season; we were pretty wounded ourselves at the time but the resilience from within the camp was great. I think we showed that we have a bit about us in terms of character and the rest is history.
“Swinton are doing it tough but they start games really well. They give themselves a good chance due to their starts and the main issue they have is that they haven’t put in an 80 minute performance yet this year and we need to make sure that they don’t find it against us!
“Teams tend to find their best form and put their best foot forward against Toronto so we’ll be expecting a really good Swinton side.”
This week could potentially see some more rotations from Toronto’s boss. Olsi Krasniqi is set to feature alongside Andrew Dixon, who returns from injury as Rowley looks to freshen up his side ahead of a packed schedule in the UK.
With his squad nearing full fitness ahead of the clash, Rowley admitted it was nice to have some selection headaches this week. He added:
“We’ll see a couple more faces this week that haven’t played in recent weeks but we’re getting healthy now so it’s a good situation for me to be in.”
19 Man Squad to Follow: