Toronto’s aggressive capture of players has at times felt like a never-ending pursuit of big-name, high-profile stars from around the globe.
Certainly, their mid-season recruitment has been one of the most active on record, on a similar scale to Leigh when they earned promotion to Super League in 2016.
Just like the Leythers back then, Toronto’s spending has come into question on more than one occasion. Read the comments on social media following any of their recent signings and you won’t struggle to find someone challenging the legitimacy of their spending spree.
But in actuality, it makes complete sense.
What we do know is that before the start of the season they weren’t up to the £1.9 million figure, with Paul Rowley confirming they still had space for further signings, despite high-profile acquisitions such as Josh McCrone and Joe Westerman (more on him later).
Then, the club was rocked by the sudden departures of Ryan Bailey, Fuifui MoiMoi and Dave Taylor, who left by ‘mutual consent’.
If you’re to believe the Australian media, Taylor had signed a three-year deal worth $1 million, which is the equivalent of around £185,000 per year. Even if Taylor was signed as a marquee player, his departure will still have seen £175,000 moved off Toronto’s salary cap. Add the salaries of Moimoi, one of the club’s high-profile signings in their inaugural year, and Bailey, who likely commanded a reasonable fee too, the Wolfpack’s had suddenly freed up a significant six-figure fee on their cap.
Before the season started, the Wolfpack quickly moved to cover their departures. Jack Buchanan, who was a free agent after leaving Widnes, provided cover in the pack. Nick Rawsthorne, the young centre who had yet to break through at Hull FC, was also drafted in, while Jake Butler-Fleming signed soon afterwards. That said, it’s safe to assume the combined salaries of the trio is just a small percentage of Taylor, Moimoi and Bailey. In truth, their combined cost probably doesn’t surpass Taylor’s alone.
That said, the Wolfpack’s capture of big-name stars as the season has continued will have seen their spending move towards the cap. Reni Maitua was brought out of retirement while the captures of Chase Stanley and Gareth O’Brien signalled two significant financial moves for the Wolfpack.
But as quick as players have been coming in, players have been heading the other direction.
Westerman, who was safely one of the club’s highest-paid players, has headed a mid-season exodus that has seen Maitua return to retirement and Butler-Fleming go back to York. Tom Armstrong was released, Quentin Laulu-Togagae joined Halifax and James Laithwaite went on loan to Bradford.
Still, the Wolfpack have added two further major additions. Darcy Lussick’s arrival saw the club take up the marquee player option once again, while Matty Russell was reportedly on around £90,000 at Warrington.
But despite their two most recent arrivals, Toronto have still seen more players leave the club than join since the turn of the year.
TORONTO RECRUITMENT SINCE JANUARY 2018
Toronto’s spending will still be under the cap. If anything, they’ll still have some room remaining for further arrivals.