2nd February 2019, 20:15 | championship

York and Toronto set for 'Transatlantic tussle'

York and Toronto set for 'Transatlantic tussle'

A look ahead to the opening round of games in the much anticipated Betfred Championship season.

It’s a clash between history and the ambitious new face of Rugby League as York City Knights entertain Toronto Wolfpack, as the much anticipated Betfred Championship season gets under way on ‘Super Sunday’.

In what’s been built as the ‘Transatlantic Tussle’, the fixture is the first competitive match for the Canadians since suffering the disappointment of missing out on Super League promotion with the £1m Game defeat to London Broncos.

Whilst for York, the game marks an exciting new chapter for a club which is once again on the rise, as they play Championship rugby for the first time since 2013.

York are set to have huge support on Sunday – the club have confirmed terrific ticket sales for the season opener and there’s set to be a vociferous atmosphere within Bootham Crescent.

“We’re hoping to do what we did at the beginning of last season against Bradford,” said half-back Ben Cockayne. 

“We got more than 4,000 in for that game so hopefully we can get the same and if not more, this time around.

“They’re a team full of superstars really, I think their playing roster will probably what you would call Super League standard, so it’s going to be a real tough start for us but we’re looking forward to it.”

Toronto Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott

For Toronto, it will be Brian McDermott’s first competitive game in charge of his new side, after winning four Super League titles with Leeds Rhinos. 

It will also see the first appearances of high-profile signings Jon Wilkin from St Helens and Ricky Leutele from Cronulla Sharks.

Wilkin is wary of the threat that the Knights pose, saying: “They are a side that have got some real momentum behind what they’re doing; their new stadium and their increased following, and they seem to be relishing this positive messaging that’s coming out.

“We’ve got a really big challenge when we face them in Round One.”

You can watch the game live on Sunday from 3pm on Sky Sports Arena.

Elsewhere on Sunday, fellow Championship new-boys Bradford Bulls host fancied Featherstone Rovers, as Championship rugby returns to Odsal following their promotion from Betfred League 1.

A new-look Leigh Centurions side, coached by Jon Duffy, face Toulouse Olympique, whilst Keiron Purtill’s Widnes Vikings, who were relegated from Super League in 2018, take on Halifax.

Batley Bulldogs host Barrow Raiders and Sheffield Eagles play Swinton Lions. Rochdale Hornets’ fixture against Dewsbury Rams faces a pitch inspection at noon on Saturday following heavy snow in Greater Manchester earlier this week.