Canadian Rugby League has started working together with the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Club, the only Professional Rugby Club in Canada! There is now a Canadian pathway for talented young Rugby players to play professionally in Canada which is exciting news for young athletes.
Three Canadian players were given the opportunity to train & play in the UK for a Toronto Wolfpack contract. Quinn Ngawati from British Columbia and Chad Bain & Emil Borggren from Ontario. These three players happened to be the 3 youngest players of the total group that was selected with Quinn 17 years, Emil 21 years & Chad 24 years old. Toronto Wolfpack flew these players over to the UK and covered all their costs for the week!
After a hectic week of training they played a game vs Brighouse Rovers and then the Wolfpack Coaching staff selected Quinn Ngawati to be the first Canadian home grown player to play Professional Rugby League.
Many thought that playing with & against much older players would make it very tough for Quinn to win a contract. Quinn was given the opportunity to play in an open age representative game this year which gave him valuable experience. He represented the Western Canada Senior Men’s team where he debuted as a centre on the left edge against a very physical Queensland Police team, putting in a solid defensive effort as well as taking over the kicking duties on debut! For Toronto Wolfpack’s inaugural game last Saturday, his incredible toolbox of rugby skills was so impressive that the Wolfpack professional & experienced coaching staff charged Quinn with the huge responsibility of the play-making role in the halves. One of the highlights of the game was Quinn’s impressively athletic aerial leap high above his opposite defender to catch a cross-field kick and land to score a try in the in-goal area!
In August earlier this year Quinn was co-captain of the undefeated Canada Wolverines Under 17s and was MVP in the test Match v Jamaica in Kingston. Canada’s Youth Development Coach on this tour, Andy Blackburn, was very impressed with him and said, “Quinn already has at the age of 17 the most complete skill set of any rugby player I have seen or coached in Canada! My toughest dilemma was knowing where to play Quinn. He can literally play any position 1-13 on the rugby league field and would probably be the best player in each position. He represented Canada Under 17s as a lock #13 playing in the middle as a power runner with great footwork, offloading skills and line-break ability combining his hard-hitting defence with an off the charts work ethic. He also started in the shortened rugby league 9s version of the game (similar to 7s) in the halves executing our game plan as a play-maker, showcasing his vision, decision-making, precision passing and deft kicking skills.”
Blackburn added, “Quinn’s incredible attention to detail and studying all aspects of the game, his analytical approach to the adoption of new skills, his professional attitude and amazing work ethic coupled with his natural athleticism & physicality have drawn comparison with his hero Sonny Bill Williams. The physical likeness is uncanny as first noticed by CRLA President Paul O’Keefe, back in 2014, who remembered meeting SBW at a similar age after signing for NRL Club Canterbury Bulldogs. O’Keefe still remembers his first meeting with Quinn on his 15th birthday. He said, “Quinn was a very keen student of the NRL and we talked at length after he chose to attend a 9s tournament at Whistler instead of having a birthday parter like most kids at his age would have requested! He chose travelling with his Uncle, Wayne Davis Coach of Surrey Beavers, so he could watch live Rugby League! I have followed his career closely with great interest since first meeting Quinn.”
Quinn could easily have forged a professional career in either code,Rugby League or Rugby Union, but by his own admission in a recent interview, Quinn believes his skill set is best suited and best utilized by the game of rugby league right now.
Canada Rugby League offers opportunities to young players for overseas experience with Super League Club Huddersfield Giants & NRL Club Penrith Panthers. If you are a young Canadian athlete who wants a career path to Professional sport we encourage you to start playing Rugby League and enjoy the opportunities that are now available in Canada!