TORONTO â€” The Toronto Wolfpack have added some local flavour to their squad by signing Canadian international prop Chad Bain.
The 24-year-old from Belleville, Ont., has worked hard for his chance in rugby, moving to England to play amateur rugby league (Bradford Dudley Hill RLFC) and union (Bradford Salem RFC).
“(Rugby league) quickly became my game. I love the physicality of it,” said the six-foot 260-pounder.
The Toronto team is set to begin play in March in the Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of English rugby league. The goal is to win promotion and eventually work its way up to the elite Super League.
Bain returned home in July and made an impression at the Wolfpack’s Toronto tryout session in September. Bain, the team’s first Ontario signing, was one of 18 finalists selected from tryouts in Canada, the U.S. and Jamaica to train with the club in England.
“I loved it,” he said. “Whether I made it or not at that point, I had a great experience. It was a great group of guys. There was really no animosity towards each other. We were all competing but you wouldn’t know it.”
Bain was named man of the match in the trialists’ 28-26 win over a local club, Brighouse Rangers ARLFC, last month in England.
“He worked really hard and has proven to us that he has what it takes to contribute to the squad, and it’s even better that he is a native of our province of Ontario,” Wolfpack CEO Eric Perez said in a statement.
Victoria’s Quinn Ngawati, Jamaican Nathan Campbell and American Jake Eicher were the first three trialists to stick with the team. Just 17, Ngawati is seen as a long-term project. His future likely involves joining a rugby league academy in England after he finishes school this summer.
Bain got the good news Sunday.
“Throughout the trials he has excelled at overcoming obstacles, and like his playing style, he has smashed them out of the way,” said Brian Noble, the Wolfpack’s director of rugby. “Now the hard work begins.”
Bain, who played No. 8 in rugby union, expects to fly to England later this week to resume training with the team.
The trialists’ journey is being documented for a show called “The Last Tackle.”
Bain played rugby union at high school and for the Belleville Bulldogs club side. He also played club rugby during the summer while studying at Western, eventually trying rugby league with the Brantford Broncos in 2014 at a friend’s suggestion.
“I barely knew the sport at all,” he said. “I ended up going out and loved it.”
That led to playing for Canada in rugby league.
The Wolfpack open exhibition play Jan. 22 in England against Challenge Cup champion Hull FC. They open league play March 4 in England against the London Skolars. The home opener, at Lamport Stadium, is May 6 against Oxford RLFC.
The Toronto team also has Canadian international Rhys Jacks on its roster. He was born in Australia but qualifies for Canada through his Toronto-born father.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press