This Sunday at Lamport Stadium, the Ontario Rugby League season officially launches with the Toronto City Saints facing the newly formed Burlington Tigers at 1pm, followed by the Toronto Centurions taking on the Brantford Broncos at 3pm.
If last Sunday’s ORL Nines gave us a taste of what’s to come during the regular season then the competition shapes up to be an interesting one. While the Burlington Tigers will be looking to establish themselves in their first year, the Broncos, Centurions and Saints all have reason to push themselves to championship glory.
The Tigers went close to getting a win in the nines last week after playing some enterprising rugby league.
History tells us that most teams find it a challenging in their first season in a new competition. The Burlington Tigers will be looking to build as the season goes on as their rugby league experience progresses. If they can get an early season win that will be a big monkey off their back. They will look to their inspirational leader and sole Canada Wolverine representative, Denny McCarthy, to lead them around the park.
Toronto City Saints
Beaten finalists in 2011 and 2015
The Saints will be looking to go one better this season and will consider themselves unlucky losers in last year after pushing the Centurions all the way in the 2015 Grand Final. With the nucleus of the team sticking together and the addition of Canadian representatives Max Smillie and Jay Locke, the Saints pack will again be a formidable force in 2016. Expect club stalwarts, Antoine Blanc, Eddie Bilborough, Enoch Wamalwa, Nick Hails and Orlando Jones to lead the way.
Beaten finalists in 2014
After great campaigns in the last two years, the boys from Brantford will be kicking themselves at missed opportunities to raise the championship trophy. Playing their best footy against back to back champions the Toronto Centurions, it was the Saints that got the better of them and sent them packing from a spot in the final. The Broncos will be desperate to make 2016 their year and with the emergence of players like Alan Lafferty, Billy Gemmell and Erick Alvarado adding to Wolverine regulars, Steve Piatek, Christian Miller and Eric Moyer, this may well be the year of the Bronco.
Championships: 2014 & 2015
Beaten finalists 2013
Already the first team to win back to back championships, the Centurions will be aspiring for the unimaginable three-peat. There chances for such success have likely decreased with Smillie and Locke parting to the Saints, but the return of former Wolverine, Ben Fleming, will help alleviate the loss. With the Cregg brothers, Matt Wyles, Danny Tupou and Tony Felix returning for another year, coach Miers will be confident of achieving a third-straight championship.
You can catch all the action this Sunday, May 1 from 1pm at Lamport Stadium.
Click here for the full season schedule: 2016 ORL Championship Schedule