Josh McCrone appears set to partner Scotland playmaker Ryan Brierley in the halves for Toronto Wolfpack next season as the ambitious Canadian club continues its drive towards Super League promotion.
McCrone, who has played alongside England five-eighth Gareth Widdop for the past two seasons at St George Illawarra, is edging closer to finalising a deal which would make him the face of the world’s first trans-Atlantic professional sporting team.
Besides Brierly, who is expected to be the Bravehearts halfback at this year’s Rugby League World Cup, the Wolfpack boast a number of players from the US Hawks squad - headed by fullback Ryan Burroughs, who played for Parramatta’s feeder club Wentworthville last season.
Ireland hooker Bob Beswick, former New Zealand and Tonga front rower Fuifui Moimoi and Canadian international Rhys Jacks, the brother of Melbourne Storm five-eighth Ryley Jacks, also play for Wolfpack.
But McCrone would be the biggest signing yet for the new club, who are almost certain to gain promotion from League One to the English Championship after scoring 602 points and conceding just 85 to be undefeated in their 10 games so far.
While McCrone has not yet agreed to the move, it is understood he is attracted by the opportunity to be a trailblazer if the Wolfpack fulfil their stated ambition to qualify for Super League in 2019.
The 30-year-old former NSW Country Origin representative has been an integral part of the Dragons side for the past two seasons since shifting from Canberra, where he played 133 matches in seven years.
He has played 20 NRL matches for St George Illawarra but the arrival of Ben Hunt from Brisbane next season has left McCrone considering his options and Toronto have emerged as surprise favourites for his services.
The Wolfpack, whose matches are broadcast in the UK and Canada, have been attracting been attracting crowds of more than 7,000 for their home games at Lamport Stadium in Toronto.