Super League debutantes Toronto Wolfpack host Castleford Tigers at Leeds’ Emerald Headingley in their season opener. Cross-code international signing Sonny Bill Williams is set to make his debut and is aiming to kick off his lucrative two-year deal with a win.
Toronto come into this one unbeaten in 23 consecutive competitive games. While the majority of them were in the Championship, Toronto have developed a winning mentality and come into this one off the back of beating Castleford in a pre-season friendly.
Castleford come into the game off the back of a trio of pre-season losses against Bradford, Widnes and Toronto. While it’s certainly a negative to get their season off to a losing start, the matches were largely experimental to test different combinations so it’s not worth reading into the fixtures much.
The major team news for the Canadian outfit is the debut of Sonny Bill Williams having Brian McDermott confirming that he will definitely play this Sunday. The former-Leeds coach also alluded to the fact that the Wolfpack will look to play off him a lot, which makes him an even more important inclusion against Castleford.
Toronto (from): O’Brien, Russell, Leutele, Kay, Mellor, McCrone, Sidlow, Ackers, Mullally, Dixon, Thompson, Wilkin, Lussick, Springer, Olbison, Wallace, Singleton, Wheeler, Cunningham, Williams, Miloudi.
Castleford have included a number of potential debutantes in their 21 man squad, including former St.Helens half-back Danny Richardson. New additions Tyla Hepi, George Griffin, and Derrell Olpherts join Richardson in the 21 man squad.
Castleford (from): Rankin, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Trueman, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Millington, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Blair, Smith, Moors, Clare, O’Neill, Hepi, Eden, Peachey, Martin.
Toronto come into this game off the back of 23 consecutive wins. It’s a huge stat when taken in the context of the mentality of a team, albeit mostly against inferior teams from the Championship.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Castleford have a huge injury list and are missing key forwards, which gives the likes of new signing Tyla Hepi the chance to step up and help dominate the Toronto pack. The key battle lies between the two packs. Coming up from the Championship, Toronto’s forwards face another level of challenge when facing a somewhat weakened Super League standard pack.
Liam Watts is questionable for the fixture and if deemed fit, will play a huge part in Castleford’s assault in the middles, while the Castleford back row will also have a task on their hands with New Zealand international Sonny Bill Williams. The Rugby World Cup winner may not be able to win the game for Toronto by himself but he certainly will go a long way to helping them to a potential victory.
Date: Sunday 2nd February 2020
Venue: Leeds Emerald Headingley
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT