Toronto project bigger than playing NRL, says new Wolfpack signing McCrone

You couldn’t blame Josh McCrone for being sceptical when he first received a call from someone claiming to represent a club in Toronto playing in the third-tier of British Rugby league.

This, after all, is a man who has enjoyed a successful nine-year NRL career and was playing alongside Dally M leader Gareth Widdop in the halves at St George Illawarra when he first learnt of interest from the Wolfpack.

But roll the clock forward and the 30-year-old has ditched the glamour of the NRL for the rigours of Championship rugby league.

His acquisition is set to be a significant coup for the Wolfpack, with his expertise adding craft and guile to a squad blessed with flamboyance and panache.

However, McCrone admitted the biggest attraction of the Wolfpack was the impact he can help have off the field, for both the Wolfpack and the game as a whole.

“In the NRL you show up on November 1 and you’re flogged all year with the goal of winning a Grand Final. This is much bigger than that,” he said.

“We’re trying to get to the top, we’re trying to promote Rugby League in North America. That is the exciting part for me.

“It’s a massive opportunity. When I first spoke to Brian Noble and Rowls (Paul Rowley) about the direction they were going in, it was something that really excited me.

“Before that, I thought it was a bit far-fetched, it wasn’t something I thought I’d go for. But they reassured me with the direction they want to go in and the confidence they have in the squad. To promote the game in North America and get to Super League is appealing to me and I want to be a part of that.”

McCrone wasn’t the only high-profile name the Wolfpack targeted, and succeeded, in bringing to the club.

Another of their recruits is Ashton Sims, who has joined the club from Warrington Wolves. The pair would liaise with each other throughout the process to ensure they had the same thoughts on a potential move.

“Me and Ashton talked before about what direction the club was going and making sure we both had the same feelings about it.

“I’m good mates with Ashton’s younger brother, Tariq, and I know he’s made out of the same cloth. We did chat and we were coming back with the same answers, so we were both excited to jump on board.”

Now, McCrone is stepping into unchartered territory. Beyond anything else, he’s taking a stride into the unknown.

“To be fair I probably know more about League 1 than Championship,” he admitted.

“I was following that in Toronto. I don’t know half of the teams that are in there to be honest, but I’m not worried about that, I’m worried about building something here. I have heard smatterings of things and I’m sure I’ll quickly get to know it.”

The majority of his limited knowledge is, inevitably, regarding Leigh Centurions, with the links between the two clubs promising to result in a fierce rivalry.

“That’s a fair assumption,” he said.

“It’s funny because there are a few boys from the Dragons who have gone to Leigh, so it’s an interesting mix for me.

“Geographically they aren’t far from us so I’m sure some of the boys there I will catch up with. They’re excited to be there and I’m excited to be here and play against them.”