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Hard-hitting Toronto Wolfpack forwards set the table for their speedy backs


Star centre Ricky Leutele and winger Matty Russell have combined to make the left edge of the Toronto Wolfpack attack hard to defend.

But while quick hands and feet have made for a feast of tries, the big men up front have set the table for the Wolfpack.

Toronto (3-0-0) will look to extend its unbeaten record on Sunday when it visits the fifth-place Leigh Centurions (2-1-0) in Betfred Championship rugby league play.

Russell has five tries, four of which came in a 58-6 win over Rochdale Hornets, while Leutele has two for the league-leading Wolfpack.

"Ricky did all the work really. I just had to put them down," Russell said modestly after the Rochdale game.

A line-break by forward Darcy Lussick set the scene for Toronto's second try in Saturday's 30-6 win over Widnes Vikings in Newcastle. The big Australian passed to fellow forward Jon Wilkin, a former England international, just before being tackled and Wilkin fed Andy Ackers for the score.

Ashton Sims, an Australian-born Fiji international, has also made opponents pay with Adam Sidlow proving effective off the bench.

The forward play has Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble, a former Great Britain international hooker, nodding his head in approval. He enjoys the forwards' straightforward  "horse-before-the-cart" approach to the game.

"I like the trimmings and I like the mint sauce and I like all the fancy stuff but I do like a decent pie to go before it with meat and potatoes," Noble said in an interview.

Rampaging runs by the big men can pull defences out of their shape, not to mention punishing smaller tacklers. Once the holes open, the backs have been able to move the ball quickly to the wingers.

"I think with Leutele there on the left edge there, we've got a world-class operator" said Noble. "His footwork is outstanding. He embarrassed a player of some substance in (Cook Islands international) Anthony Gelling who's well thought of. That left edge is very very very exciting."

Leutele's ball-handling speed is also phenomenal.

The Wolfpack will be without Wilkin, who is serving a suspension Sunday.

"I think it's a big test for us without a couple of players through injury," Noble said of Leigh.

Missing though injuries are Liam Kay and Greg Worthington, both recovering from long-term issues, as well as winger Gary Wheeler and forward Jake Emmitt.

Newly signed Anthony Mullally, a former Leeds Rhino prop known as The Vegan Warrior, is set to make his Wolfpack debut.

"He's another big unit who'll be wanting to impress," said Noble.

Toronto is 3-0-0 all-time against Leigh, posting wins of 46-28, 28-26 and 34-12 last season.

The news continues to get worse for Widnes (2-1-0), meanwhile. The former Super League club has been deducted 12 points after going into administration.

A proposed takeover fell through this week, prompting Sunday's game against Sheffield Eagles to be postponed. Thanks to a playoff loss in Toronto, Widnes was relegated from Super League last season after a seven-year stint.

"Following the latest development, the RFL will now seek to work alongside those stakeholders in order to try and find a solution which guarantees the future of the club, the Rugby Football League said in a statement.

The Wolfpack continue to look to spend, with majority owner David Argyle confirming the club is interested in securing the services of New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams after the Rugby World Cup later this year.

 

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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