Skip to content

Toronto Wolfpack halfback Joe Mellor faces former Widnes Vikings team

Joe Mellor's lone visit to Toronto was not very special. His Widnes Vikings were relegated from the Super League in a 20-12 loss to the Wolfpack last September.

Joe Mellor's lone visit to Toronto was not very special.

His Widnes Vikings were relegated from the Super League in a 20-12 loss to the Wolfpack last September. On Saturday, Mellor will be wearing Toronto colours as the Wolfpack face Widnes in Newcastle in a battle of unbeaten teams in the second-tier Betfred Championship.

"It's going to be a strange one, to be fair," the 28-year-old halfback said in an interview. "I was there for just over seven seasons so it's going to be strange playing against some of the players I've played with for a number of years."

"As soon as the game kicks off, I'll just be focusing on my job," he added.

Toronto and Widnes are two of four unbeaten teams in the Championship two games into the season. The Wolfpack top the table on points difference (plus 66) ahead of Sheffield (plus 56), Widnes (plus 36) and Bradford (plus 20).

Toronto opened with road wins over the York City Knights (14-0) and Rochdale Hornets (58-6). Widnes downed Halifax RLFC 40-16 and won 36-24 at Toulouse.

The Wolfpack added to their roster Friday by signing former Leeds Rhinos forward Anthony Mullally to a two-year deal. The move reunites the 27-year-old with former Leeds coach Brian McDermott, now in charge of the Wolfpack.

Mullally previously played for Huddersfield Giants, Batley Bulldogs, Bradford Bulls and Wakefield Trinity.

"Anthony has well over 100 Super League games including a Grand Final victory under his belt, and we believe he still has his best years in front of him," Brian Noble, Toronto's director of rugby, said in a statement.

A vegan, Mullally's nickname is the Vegan Warrior.

With a dismal 3-20-0 record in the Super League last season, Widnes' future looked bleak by the time it entered the relegation-promotion Super 8 Qualifiers. It finished the playoffs with a 1-6-0 mark with the Wolfpack administering the coup de grace.

Mellor, a co-captain at Widnes, remembers the heat that day and the sizable crowd — a Country Day promotion helped draw 8,281 to Lamport Stadium. The loss ended Widnes' seven-year stay in the top tier of English rugby league.

"It was a bit of a sad day, to be fair," added Mellor, who scored one of Widnes' tries that day. "Because it was probably the end of my time at Widnes at that point. So it was sad, but now I'm hopefully on to bigger and better things."

Many of the Vikings left after the club was relegated, with forward Tom Olbison also joining Toronto. Mellor had offers from other Super League clubs but liked the Wolfpack's ambition.

Thanks to the Wolfpack's lopsided schedule, he won't be in Toronto until April 28. After speaking to his new teammates, he's looking forward to it.

"They love it when they're over there," Mellor said. "It'll definitely be a new adventure for me."

Mellor, who is married with a 10-week-old son, will be looking to bring his family with him. 

Born and raised in Warrington, Mellor still makes his home there. His commute to train at Widnes was 10 to 15 minutes. Now he travels some 45 minutes "on a good day" to the Wolfpack training ground in Manchester. Add an eight-hour flight to the home games and there is much more travelling.

But you could say he has family here, given Wolfpack forward Andrew Dixon is his brother-in-law. Mellor married his sister.

Mellor has played with Toronto winger Matty Russell before and knows fullback Gaz O'Brien because he also calls Warrington home.

He previously played for Wigan and, while on loan, the London Broncos. 

In other Wolfpack news, Toronto has loaned Albanian-born forward Olsi Krasniqi to Bradford Bulls.

Jay Chapelhow comes into Widnes' squad Saturday, replacing Liam Walsh. Widnes captain Hep Cahill, Wellington Albert, Krisnan Inu, Tom Gilmore and Dan Norman are all injured.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks