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Toronto have upped their battle to put a better team around Sonny Bill Williams, arguing that other clubs in Super League are allowed to spend up to £200,000 more than them.

Coach Brian McDermott has attracted criticism from rival clubs over his calls for salary cap concessions in light of the multi-million-dollar acquisition of Williams, with unconfirmed reports the other 11 sides had already voted against the request.

Speaking after the 28-10 defeat to Castleford to open the Canadian club’s first Super League campaign, McDermott said his comments had been misinterpreted. The club reckons there are a host of allowances which are specific to English teams which don’t - and perhaps never will - apply to them.

“I was real about the size of the squad before, I was real about the amount of money we have to spend which is less than every other Super League club,” the coach said.

“As a start point it’s less. We’re not asking for more money when we talk about dispensation. I probably didn’t make that clear a couple of weeks ago.

Toronto's Sonny Bill Williams and Jon Wilkin.
Toronto's Sonny Bill Williams and Jon Wilkin.

“The reality is that if there is no recognition of our operational demands within the rules that get applied to us, the answer is we’ve got to crack on and win games. We’re not looking for an easy out at all but at the same time looking for some things to be looked at.

“I don’t think we’ll get an answer soon.”

Reports in Monday’s 'League Express' in the UK suggested the Wolfpack will be allowed to sign two more players so McDermott may get some satisfaction sooner than anticipated.

As far as his star signing goes, McDermott said he didn’t want to critique the performance of the man rated the most famous player in the world from either rugby code.

“I’m not too interested in trying to summarise it," he said. "We’ve been saying since day one that this is going to take some time, take some transition.

"I think when he got his second wind he got through some tackles, got through some carries. It’s always good, isn’t it, when you sign someone of his calibre.

“But yeah, he got some game time under his belt which is valuable for for him. He hasn’t played rugby league for five years.”

Rival coach Daryl Powell said: “SBW – he’ll get better. He passed the ball a lot. Obviously he’s an offload threat, but he hasn’t played rugby league for five years, so it will take him time to bed in. And from what I’ve seen of him he’s a good guy and has brought a lot to the game in terms of column inches. He’ll bed in and he’ll be great.”

Williams has one more game in Britain, against Salford on Saturday, before temporarily returning to New Zealand.

“He’ll play next week, all being well, and then he’ll go back home and be at his wife’s bedside for the birth of his baby,” McDermott said.

Fullback or winger Gareth O’Brien was rested but the Wolfpack have a number of other players unavailable.

Toronto Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott
Toronto Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott

“Chase Stanley is still in Oz finalising his heritage visa,” said McDermott.  “Bodene (Thompson)’s got a bit of a calf strain, Darcy Lussick’s had an operation on his hernia, we’ll try and get him back as soon as possible. It won’t be long.”

The coach concluded that he was “reasonably encouraged” by the performance.

“We’ll come good, we’ll come good. It’s round one. We had a task today to give ourselves a foundation to play from and we did that.  The critical part from me is it should have been a closer scoreline. We should have scored a try or two more.

“But we’ve learned some really good lessons today and I’ll tell you, we’ll probably learn some lessons the week after that, week after that, week after that. I won’t put a figure on it but I’ll tell you in the first five rounds, you don’t all of sudden fall into Super League pace. 

“It’s going to take us a little while to get up to speed but the elephant in the room is we’ve got to avoid relegation at the same time so we can’t be too long on that.”

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