Toronto Wolfpack players take to social media to protest missing paycheques

Toronto Wolfpack players took to social media Monday to protest not being paid.

"Technically stranded in U.K.," tweeted Australian prop Darcy Lussick. "No visa so I can't work, no help getting home to Australia as promised. About to be evicted from my house.

"A lot of people have it a lot worse then me but this situation has gone too far now."

Several players sent out the same social media message on a black background: "Third month of no pay for the players, staff and families of @TorontoWolfpackOfficial @RugbyFootballLeague #Forgotten #MentalHealth."

It appears the players chose Monday to state their case because they were last paid June 10 — via June 1 paycheques, which covered May, coming late. The transatlantic rugby league team missed the July 1 and Aug. 1 payrolls.

"When are you going to step in and help the welfare of players who are contracted to your competition?" Lussick asked the Rugby Football League, the sport's governing body in England.

The Wolfpack declined to respond "at this time" to the player complaints.

The transatlantic Wolfpack are on the selling block after standing down last month due to financial problems. Majority owner David Argyle, who is stepping aside, has guaranteed that the missing pay will come but Wolfpack chairman and CEO Bob Hunter has said Argyle is not currently in a position to make good on that promise.

Four groups are interested in purchasing the Wolfpack, according to Hunter. The hope is they might be able to help take care of the missing payroll.

Time is of the essence with Super League saying a new application to return to the league will have to be in by the end of the month.

As one of the Wolfpack's seven import players, Lussick faces visa issues in addition to the financial problems. The imports have a visa that allows them to spend six months of the year in England, which works when the team spends time on both sides of the Atlantic.

But the pandemic has kept the players in England, meaning their visa time has run out. The Wolfpack were also providing housing for the imports, which has also been affected by the financial pinch.

Australian-born Samoan international Ricky Leutele has already signed with the Melbourne Storm for the rest of the season with fellow Wolfpack marquee player Sonny Bill Williams, a former All Black, expected to join him with the NRL's Sydney Roosters.

The Wolfpack have told their players they are free to negotiate their own deals and go out on loan in 2020. The franchise has said it wants to field a team in 2021 but that depends on rugby league authorities and the outcome of a possible sale.

New Zealand's Bodene Thompson has been linked to England's Leeds Rhinos.

England international Kallum Watkins, who never got to play for the Wolfpack after signing in May, is reportedly being targeted by both the Salford Red Devils and Hull Kingston Rovers.

Fullback Gareth O'Brien joined Castleford Tigers on Monday on a loan deal through the remainder of the season.

O'Brien joined Toronto in 2018 after stints with Salford, Warrington Wolves, Swinton Lions, St Helens, Widnes Vikings and North Wales Crusaders. He spent two games on loan with Castleford while with Warrington, where he graduated from the Wolves academy.

O'Brien was named player of the year in the second-tier Betfred Championship in 2019 after scoring 22 tries in 27 games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2020.

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