Paul Johnson felt it was a case of history repeated when he read about the misery Toronto Wolfpack players are suffering
As uncertainty over the Canadian club’s future rumbles on, food hampers are being delivered to the players, donated from the other Super League clubs.
For former Wigan and Test centre Johnson, the players’ plight has echoes of his own experience with Celtic Crusaders a decade ago.
The club – like Toronto, initially well-funded and hailed by many for expanding the game – pulled the plug on their Super League adventure in 2011, leaving many players in limbo.
Johnson, Wigan’s strength and conditioning coach, said: “I feel for the Toronto players.
“I only know what I’ve seen only and what they’ve put on social media, but it looks like they’ve been left out of pocket and not knowing what’s going on next year.
“You feel for them. I’ve been there myself and it’s not nice.”
Johnson had enjoyed a stellar career with Wigan, Bradford, Warrington and Great Britain before he joined the Wrexham-based Crusaders.
I’d just signed to go around for one more year but after they pulled the plug, I decided to retire on the back of it,” said the 41-year-old.
“All the Aussie lads lost out financially. Michael Witt had just signed a new deal, moved house on the back of it, sorted out the new schools and then it got pulled from under his feet.
“It was shocking when it happened. The RFL paid our wages until the end of the year – we pretty much weren’t going to finish the season otherwise. But it still cost a lot of people money.”
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