The lowdown on Toronto Wolfpack ahead of the Championship Grand Final against Featherstone Rovers

Championship Player of the Year Gareth O'Brien. PIC: Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.
Championship Player of the Year Gareth O'Brien. PIC: Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.

TORONTO WOLFPACK will host Featherstone Rovers in the Championship Grand Final on Saturday with a place in Super League up for grabs.

It is the second-straight year that the Canadian club has hosted the promotion play-off, after they lost 4-2 in a try-less game against London Broncos last autumn.

Super League has today confirmed that the winner of the clash will be promoted.

Below we give the lowdown on the Toronto Wolfpack as Featherstone look to upset the odds and gain passage into Super League for the first time.

History

Toronto Wolfpack were granted admission into the British leagues in 2016 and played their first season in 2017.

Andy Ackers in action for Toronto Wolfpack. PIC: Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.

Andy Ackers in action for Toronto Wolfpack. PIC: Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.

The Wolfpack strolled to the League 1 title and promotion to the Championship in 2017 and have been the dominant force in the second tier for the past two seasons.

Despite their dominance, Toronto failed to earn promotion to Super League in 2018.

They have lost just one game this year - a 46-16 defeat in Toulouse - but know that Saturday's game is no foregone conclusion.

Three to watch

Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott. PIC: Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.

Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott. PIC: Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.

Toronto's dominance has been, in part, down to their financial weight.

They are littered with former NRL and Super League stars, including Championship player of the Year nominees Andy Ackers, Gareth O’Brien and Jon Wilkin.

O'Brien took the accolade after featuring in 26 of Toronto’s 27 league fixtures this season, scoring 22 tries and a quarter of the Wolfpack’s entire points in 2019.

In his first season with the club, former St Helens star Wilkin has helped to guide the Wolfpack to the League Leaders' Shield for the second-year running.

Hooker Andy Ackers is in his second year at the Canadian club, enjoying another impressive season in Toronto colours.

Key battle

Featherstone Rovers hooker Connor Jones has been one of the side's form players in the play-offs.

Brought in to replace the injured Cameron King, Jones has done a superb job filling in for his Australian teammate.

Andy Ackers and Jones will be an interesting battle on Saturday night, with both players looking to get their teams in the front foot.

How the coaches compare

Featherstone Rovers chief Ryan Carr arrived in England as a rather unheralded name.

However, his stock has surged this year with the Australian earning a part-time role on Leeds Rhinos' coaching staff.

The 31-year-old is one of the youngest coaches in the game but is fast becoming one of the most respected.

Toronto counterpart Brian McDermott joined the Wolfpack ahead of the 2019 season following an illustrious coaching career at Leeds Rhinos.

The Wakefield-born coach won four Super League titles, two Challenge Cups, a League Leaders' Shield and the World Club Challenge during his eight years with Leeds.

He also won a historic treble with the Rhinos in 2015.

Head to head

Featherstone have won just one of their four meetings with Toronto since the Canadian club's promotion in 2018.

However, Rovers became the first team to win in Canada when they won 30-12 last year and have never lost by more than eight points against the Wolfpack.

They lost the last meeting 22-18 in July, but travelled without a number of key players.