Fans of Toronto Wolfpack were left stunned at the pre-season departure of 2017 stars Fui Fui Moi Moi, Ryan Bailey and newcomer Dave Taylor last week. The club’s statement read “Ryan Bailey, Fuifui Moi Moi and Dave Taylor have all left the Club by mutual agreement. The club thank the players for the efforts, and wish them well in their future careers.”
It appears there may have been a pre-season incident which sparked the departure of the trio. Although unimaginable in Australian rugby league’s fish bowl atmosphere, five days on, no details of any such incident have emerged.
The departures are extremely disappointing for local fans. Moi Moi was a fan favourite at Lamport Stadium, famous for his destructive runs. Bailey was the team’s enforcer and local fans were excited with the addition of Taylor to the forward pack for 2018. Nevertheless, it’s paramount for the long-term success of the Toronto Wolfpack that the club upholds strict off-field standards. Rugby league is a new professional sport to Canada which will not survive without the enthusiastic support of Toronto’s community.
The Wolfpack’s chances of promotion to Super League in 2018 will no doubt decrease with the loss of three likely starting forwards. Toronto enjoyed a significant size advantage in their 2017 Kingstone Press League One campaign and will have a larger mountain to climb in the more professional Betfred Championship in 2018.
As a silver lining to the shock turn of events, Toronto will free up some cash and two import spots to potentially make some mid-season signings. Although they recruited strongly in the forward pack and in the halves with newly appointed captain Josh McCrone, the outside back stocks could be improved. This is especially important given the loss of 2017 captain Craig Hall.
The Wolfpack’s first test will be against fellow promotion hopefuls Leigh Centurions on February 4.