Brian McDermott has again pleaded for the Rugby Football League to grant Toronto Wolfpack salary cap dispensation for the good of the sport’s development in North America, before admitting they would be interested in signing ‘projects’ from Saracens.
The rugby union side looks set for a drastic overhaul after accepting relegation from the Gallagher Premiership, which could lead to a number of their star names being forced to leave the club in the months ahead.
Toronto have made no secret of their desire to sign the biggest names in world rugby, and when asked about it on Sunday, after his side defeated Castleford Tigers 16-10, McDermott said: “If you’re talking projects, for sure.
“As it stands, if we sign a rugby union player on, he wouldn’t count on the cap and it’s great. It’s an innovative move, but you’re actually discriminating against league players.
“We can sign union players if they don’t count on the cap for the first year, and that opens up a whole new market of players.”
McDermott suggests that Toronto are facing the same issues London have in paying players more to get them to sign at an expansion club, creating cap issues.
He wants Toronto to be treated differently to other Super League clubs, saying: “We can ask for dispensation, we’re looking into it and the RFL are working with us closely.
“Their hands are tied because if any slightly different rules are applied to us, then other clubs wouldn’t be happy. We’re having to work by the same rules as every other Super League club, but our dynamic is very different.
“Take a step back from this conversation and you would imagine Toronto being in the competition is a positive thing; there’s a lot of profile around our club and the players, but the fact we’re transatlantic means our dynamic is very different.
“I coached London for five years and I would say the same, but to apply the same rules to London, Toulouse or ourselves, that every other northern club abides by, can only bring problems for those teams coming into the competition.”
McDermott continued: “Melbourne were given a dispensation because the whole of the NRL realised they wanted to get the sport going down there.
“With the same rules they wouldn’t have survived. We all recognised it was good for the comp to have Catalans in and to make sure they didn’t die in the first season, we made them void from relegation.
“We’re not afforded any of those rules and we’ve just got to do the same as Leeds Rhinos and Wigan. But you’ve got massively different geographical issues surrounding recruiting players and I would hope these things are being considered at length for the good of the competition.”
McDermott also said he is concerned over his squad’s depth.
“We’re on the cap, in fact we’re just on it at the moment and potentially breaching it – and we’re working through some processes at the moment as it’s live, to make sure we’re okay at the start of the season,” he said.
“We haven’t overspent and you don’t look at one salary and wince, thinking ‘he’s getting paid too much’. The big fella (Sonny Bill Williams) is obviously on a special deal, but that’s irrelevant to the salary cap.”