Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Wolfpack Looking for 'Rough Diamond' Ahead of Rugby League Debut

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Wolfpack Looking for 'Rough Diamond' Ahead of Rugby League Debut

Article excerpt

Toronto Wolfpack looking for 'rough diamond'


TORONTO - The Toronto Wolfpack's search for a "rough diamond" officially starts Saturday.

The fledgling rugby league team will be running some 20 to 25 athletes through drills at Lamport Stadium, with more tryouts scheduled in October in Philadelphia, Tampa and Kingston, Jamaica. Vancouver may also host tryouts.

The Wolfpack are slated to start play in March in the third tier of English rugby league, with an eye to winning promotion and eventually climbing up the ladder to the Super League.

The team has already announced the signing of a dozen players with English rugby league experience with more, including four Canadians and one American, having made verbal commitments.

The tryouts are an attempt to unearth raw talent who might flourish in the hard-hitting 13-man rugby code. Would-be players are being screened prior to the tryouts via a questionnaire before receiving an invitation.

"We'll be looking for a rough diamond basically," said Wolfpack coach Paul Rowley, a former England hooker. "Not one that's going to be a long-term project, one that has the ability to maybe transfer his skills in a different court over to rugby league in as short a space a time as possible.

"We expect good athletes. So a rough diamond we may find."

The top tryout talent will be invited to the club's training base in England to continue their journey, with the hope that some will make the squad. The club, which has already shown it is not afraid to dream big, is documenting the tryout process for a reality TV series called "The Last Tackle."

While some have rugby league experience, the talent pool also includes several players who have had NFL tryouts.

"We had lots of interest," said Wolfpack CEO Eric Perez. "That why it was difficult to get it down to a manageable number."

Perez believes the Jamaica tryouts will be especially fruitful, given the country's athletic talent and growing interest in the sport.

"I think the Jamaica trial is going to be super-intense and we will find a couple of guys there that are just next-level athletes," he said. …

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