Match Preview: Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers
Toronto Wolfpack will officially begin on-field preparations for their Super League entrance on Sunday, January 19 when they take on Castleford Tigers in a pre-season friendly at their home of Mend-A-Hose Jungle in England’s North.
Kick-off is scheduled for 2pm local time and there is plenty to be excited about despite no competition points being up for grabs. In addition to the clash being a dedicated testimonial for long-time Castleford captain Michael Shenton, it is also likely to be the first time Sonny Bill Williams will take the field as a Wolfpack player.
The cross-code superstar’s signing made international headlines throughout the off-season and after recently joining the squad in the UK, Williams is set to be unleashed against the Tigers. The New Zealand international underwent a brutal pre-season camp in the Australian city of Kingscliff before joining his new teammates and Wolfpack Head Coach Brian McDermott spoke of how impressed he has been with Williams since touching down in England:
“He’s come back in great shape. The guy’s a training freak, you can’t keep him out of the gym. He looks good.”
While the Wolfpack retain a very similar squad to the list that secured Super League promotion in 2019, Williams will not be the only new face potentially representing Toronto against Castleford. Brad Singleton and James Cunningham also found their way to the Den ahead of 2020 and will be pushing their cases for selection come Round One on February 2.
The occasion will hold special significance for the Tigers and their captain Michael Shenton as it has been marked as an opportunity to celebrate the on and off-field exploits of a true champion. A loyal servant to Castleford spanning a 15-year career comprising over 300 games and 100 tries, Shenton led the Tigers to the League Leaders Shield in 2017 and took the field in both the 2014 Challenge Cup Final and 2019 Super League Grand Final. The Tigers will wear specially designed jerseys in honour of Shenton during the testimonial fixture.
Speaking ahead of the friendly, Shenton characteristically pointed to the positive growth of Rugby League rather than focusing on his own achievements:
“I’m really excited for the Toronto game, they bring a lot of excitement and expectation with them, so I hope the fans will come down to support me and the rest of the boys and see what Toronto are about. It’s pretty much going to be a Super League standard game two weeks before the competition starts.”
Tickets for the clash are available for purchase from Castleford Tigers in advance or at the gate on game day, with fans encouraged to come along for a great day of top-quality entertainment headlined by the Super League friendly kicking off at 2pm local time.
TORONTO WOLFPACK 2020 SQUAD
Greg Worthington (On Loan to Featherstone Rovers)
Sonny Bill Williams