London Broncos head coach Danny Ward believes it is important for rugby league to have a team from the capital promoted back to the top flight.
Speaking ahead of the Broncos’ pivotal final game of the season on Saturday, Ward said: “The game needs teams, not just in London, but other big city teams spread out in the UK as well as Toulouse and Toronto. So for a team in Super League to be from the capital, the sport needs that.”
It has been a fantastic season for rugby league’s ‘expansion teams,’ with Catalan Dragons winning the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, while the Broncos and Toronto Wolfpack are in contention for promotion going into the final round of qualifying matches this weekend.
The Broncos welcome Halifax to the Trailfinders Sports Ground, knowing a win would secure them a shot at the Million Pound Play-Off. But should results go their way over the weekend, they could secure automatic promotion to the Super League sooner than expected, thus avoiding the more precarious route.
Halifax have struggled in the qualifying phase, losing all six matches, but they did beat London in the Championship regular season and the Broncos coach is expecting a tough battle.
“They are a good side, they finished top four in the Championship for a reason and will be difficult to beat. They’ve got players who have played at Super League level and will be coming down south hoping to spoil our party.”
London were one of the founding members of the Super League in 1996, but have fallen by the wayside, enduring some tough times since their relegation in 2012. Having been at the club since 2006 — first as a player before moving into a coaching role — head coach Ward’s association with the Broncos goes beyond the familiar. When the team struggles, he struggles, so it’s no surprise that a return to the Super League would signify something special for the former Great Britain international.
“It would mean to the world me. I’ve been down here a long time now so to get the Broncos back in the Super League, where I feel they belong, would be the biggest achievement in my career.”
Ward is pleased to have such a crucial match at home and hopes the Broncos supporters can play their part, citing their home form as a key reason in their success this season.
“Our home form has been really good, so we enjoy playing [here.] It is a fast track and we will be hoping for a dry evening. It should be a great atmosphere and I hope it raises the boys.”
Home wins against Toulouse and Salford have propelled the Broncos into promotion contention and a third victory on Saturday could push them one step closer to a long overdue return to the Super League.
Featured photograph/Rob Sutton