There is an added level of excitement around the City of Toronto this week as the Wolfpack make their long-awaited return to Lamport Stadium to ‘Defend the Den’ for the first time in 2018.
Round 16 of the Betfred Championship sees the Wolfpack head home to take on top-four rivals London Broncos on a rejuvenated 3G pitch and the Toronto faithful are sure to turn out in huge numbers to get behind their heroes after almost five months on the road.
With a five-point lead at the top of the table, Toronto’s form in the league has been impressive. They have dropped only three competition points all season, losing just one match in the league to the Broncos.
Having played only one match on Canadian soil so far – Fletcher’s Fields served as a great appetiser for Wolfpack fans – the countdown has been on for the last three weeks as the Wolfpack completed their final away games of the regular season.
Home advantage will now be Toronto’s with the Broncos being the first of eight visitors in a row to Lamport Stadium. Anticipation for the start of the eight-game home stand is tangible among the Wolfpack players and fans, and the test doesn’t come much tougher than against London.
After a blistering start to 2018, the Broncos put Toronto to the sword back in round four and are an incredibly dangerous attacking side. Able to score from anywhere on the field, they boast an impressive blend of youth and experience, with the enigmatic Jarrod Sammut steering the side and an accomplished former player in Danny Ward at the helm.
Having lost a high-scoring game at the Summer Bash against Toulouse last time out, the Broncos will be looking to bounce back in style, with the opportunity hand Toronto their first loss at home serving to make this an enthralling battle.
Coming off the back of a dramatic come-from-behind win against the high-flying Leigh Centurions, Paul Rowley’s men will have to produce another performance of high resolve to give the anticipated big home crowd a win. Rowley said:
“Both times we’ve played Leigh we have got off to poor starts but myself and the coaches never felt like we were chasing the game. I thought we were by far the more physical side at the Summer Bash.
“Having the patience, poise and clinical edge not to panic when we’re behind is very pleasing and ultimately the two points were big for us. I was delighted with the win against a team full of Super League and NRL players who have been building really well.”
With thousands expected to flock to Lamport this week, coupled with the added attention from the large number of ex-pat Canadians watching in London, there is a real blockbuster feel of this fixture and Rowley was understandably looking forward to kicking off his side’s home run. He said:
“As a home opener it’s a fantastic match up and certainly has a lot of appeal as an event. It is also a game where you genuinely cannot predict the outcome so I’m sure it’s going to be a good one.
“London are a side well versed at playing on a 3G pitch and play it well. They are an unbelievably fast side and have a never say die attitude on each play; they chase everything and score a lot of tries off kicks.”
19 man squad:
3 Greg Worthington
5 Liam Kay
6 Josh McCrone
7 Ryan Brierley
8 Jack Buchanan
10 Ashton Sims
11 Andrew Dixon
14 Andy Ackers
15 Adam Sidlow
17 Blake Wallace
21 Olsi Krasniqi
22 Rich Whiting
24 Cory Paterson
28 Sam Hopkins
29 Jake Emmitt
30 Matty Russell
31 Gareth O’Brien
32 Darcy Lussick
33 Chase Stanley