American Ryan Burroughs living the dream with the Toronto Wolfpack

Toronto Wolfpack look to Captain America

Rugby league has taken Ryan Burroughs from his Virginia home to Australia and now England, where the man they call Captain America is currently based with the Toronto Wolfpack.

The 25-year-old back, who calls Huddersfield home these days, says he is living the dream with rugby league’s first transatlantic team.

“It’s been wonderful,” he said with a hint of a southern drawl. “Training’s been good, getting me in pretty much in the best shape of my life. Just learning the game, learning how to play it right. It’s been a blast.”

A fan approached him recently while he was out getting an ice cream and asked to take a picture with him

“Which was pretty cool. I’ve never had that happen before,” he said.

The Wolfpack visit Doncaster RLFC on Sunday in a battle of 3-0-0 teams in the Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of English rugby league. The game will be at the 15,000-capacity Keepmoat Stadium, which also serves hosts soccer’s Doncaster Rovers.

Toronto, a fully professional side looking to win promotion and climb the rugby league ladder, has yet to lose a competitive game in five outings so far. Four of those games have been against semi-pro opposition.

Toronto will be reinforced by the return of marauding prop Fuifui Moimoi from a three-game ban. The game may also see the debut of veteran Ryan Bailey, a former Great Britain and England international signed this week.

The 32-year-old prop has been on the sidelines since leaving Warrington at the end of 2016. He has won six Super League Grand Finals, three World Club Challenge titles and a Challenge Cup.

Burroughs was a running back and wide receiver at high school in Manassas, Va. Some three years ago, just as he was ending a three-year stint in the U.S. army, he was convinced by a friend to try rugby union with a local club team.

“I went out and played and had a blast playing (rugby) union,” he said.

His same friend then got Burroughs to try rugby league. He was instantly hooked.

“I was like I can’t get enough of this game. It’s amazing. I just wanted to keep playing.”

He spent a season with the North Virginia Eagles, which led to a successful tryout for the U.S. national team. Burroughs helped the U.S. qualify for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, at the expense of Canada and Jamaica. 

U.S. teammates Danny and Steve Howard played in Australia for the Wentworthville Magpies and helped set him up last year at the NRL Parramatta’s Eels’ feeder club.

“It was amazing, I can’t lie,” he said. “It was a blast playing footie.”

The five-foot-11 185-pounder spent close to a year Down Under, working as an air conditioning tradesman when not playing or training.

Fellow U.S. international Mark Offerdahl, who plays for the London Broncos, told Burroughs about the Wolfpack. Soon the players were sharing an agent.

“I had my heart set on coming to play for the Wolfpack,” Burroughs said. “That’s where I wanted to go and they were able to make it happen. (Wolfpack) coach Paul Rowley saw my footage and knew I was still a bit raw and new to the game but he was willing to give me a shot so I can’t thank him enough for that.”

He left Australia last October, spent a month at home with his family and then joined the Wolfpack training camp in the northern England in November.

Burroughs is the lone North American-born player currently listed on the Wolfpack roster. Rhys Jacks and Tom Dempsey are so-called heritage Canadian internationals — Australians who qualify for Canada through their bloodlines.

Chad Bain of Belleville, Ont., and Victoria’s Quinn Ngawati are part of the club but are seen as long-term projects.

Toronto is bringing Burroughs along slowly. He played the entire game again Siddal in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and came off the bench two weeks against Keighley in league play.

A wing-fullback, Burroughs has excellent Wolfpack role models in Liam Kay, Jonny Pownall and Quentin Lualu-Togaga’e.

“I’ve been getting nothing but positive feedback from the coaches and they’ve said I’ve been going great,” he said. “Liam and Jonny, the other two wingers are phenomenal players.”

Burroughs, who has never been to Canada, says he can’t want to come to Toronto. The Wolfpack home opener is May 6.

“It looks sick. It looks like it’d be a fun place,” he said. 


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

No red flags in expense audit, says former Fraser Health boss who fired Murray

Wynne Powell said report showed need for tighter rules, but didn’t suggest abuse of expense claims

RCMP’s auto theft team nabs Chilliwack suspect

Kao Daniel Macaulay, well-known to police, arrested in stolen red Honda on March 20

UPDATE: Man with gunshot wound drives into ditch on Chilliwack River Road

Serious crimes investigators believe early morning shooting to be targeted

WATCH: Rally at MP’s office Friday in Chilliwack to stop KM pipeline

Water samples from Chilliwack rivers were delivered to MP Strahl’s office in a symbolic gesture

Garrison store going to new heights for children’s charity

Save-On Foods employees raising cash for BC Children’s Hospital, by throwing managers from airplane

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Gas prices likely driving Canadians to US pumps

Customs say cost of fuel, nice weather, spring break are contributing factors of uptick of traffic

VIDEO: Hockey tournament remembers young fan

Hundreds take part in annual Jordan Owens memorial in Lower Mainland

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in B.C. before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Kelowna’s Prospera Place

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Most Read