St Helens’ departing forward Jon Wilkin has confirmed that he will be playing for the Toronto Wolfpack in 2019.
Speaking on the latest episode of his Whippets and Flatcaps podcast, the 34-year-old revealed that he had penned a deal for the team who were defeated in the Million Pound Game, losing 4-2 at home to London Broncos as they ultimately fell just short of their goal of successive promotions. With over 400 appearances for the team he joined from his hometown team Hull KR, Wilkin is a true St Helens legend and throughout his time with the club he was named in the 2006 Super League Dream Team while also winning every domestic honour with the team.
Of his move, Wilkin was understandably excited and, when discussing his new employers’ recent defeat, he professed that it could be a good thing in the long run for the Canadians. “If you go up too early and it’s the wrong time then you’ll come straight back down. If you go up and your culture’s not right you’ll get beat,” he explained, the latter point referring to the team’s ill-discipline which haunted them in both their Challenge Cup loss at Warrington as well as the Million Pound Game. “I’m going there to make a difference to something in a different way,” he added, explaining that he believes he will be able to add further strong leadership to that already in the Toronto ranks while also hoping to help the indiscipline that was painfully obvious in their televised matches. “I may not be at my best physically but mentally and the capacity to lead is what I’m taking.”
Mark Flanagan, one of Wilkin’s co-hosts on the podcast, suggested that the structure change for 2019 and beyond – where there is one guaranteed promotion spot from the Championship into Super League – could benefit a team like Toronto, something Wilkin agreed with. “It gives them another year to refine what they do before they hit Super League,” he noted. Toronto have already completed the signing of Ricky Leutele from the NRL and have been strongly linked with Widnes half-back Joe Mellor who, in some reports, has been said to have already signed for the club.