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Canadian team to join English rugby league setup

The Toronto side will have to start in League 1, like France's Toulouse Olympique (in white). Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Ambitious plans to introduce a Canadian team into the English domestic rugby league have been given the go-ahead.

Details of a Toronto-based club's admission to Kingstone Press League One, the third-tier of the professional game, from 2017 will be revealed at a launch in both Canada and the UK on Wednesday.

The plans, which have been two years in the making, will be unveiled in Toronto and linked by video to the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Leeds.

Former Great Britain boss Brian Noble, one of the most successful coaches in Super League following his stint at Bradford from 2000 to 2006, will be confirmed as the new club's director of rugby, with ex-Leigh boss Paul Rowley becoming the first head coach.

The project, which is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur Eric Perez, has the official backing of the Rugby Football League and received overwhelming support from the clubs.

Perez, who produces a weekly rugby league show on Sportsnet World, is thought to be ready to quit his job as a marketing campaign manager to commit to the project.

The first Canadian trans-Atlantic pro sports team is expected to play home games at Lamport Stadium in blocks of three or four and go "on the road" for a similar length of time in the UK.

It is thought the team will initially be based in England and draw on players currently in the Championship and League One but the long-term aim will be to use players from the Canadian domestic competition and it could even become a stepping stone for a team in the United States to follow suit.

Both Canada and the U.S. have international teams and the latter have qualified for the 2017 World Cup under Leeds coach Brian McDermott. The Canadians say they regularly attract crowds of 7,000 for international matches at the Lamport Stadium.

Perez was thwarted in his initial plan to enter a team in Super League but will aim to achieve his ambition through promotion.

The Canadians will be closely watching the progress of Toulouse, who also have designs on joining Catalans Dragons in Super League but were forced to start off in the third tier.

They are so far unbeaten in League One and last week knocked Championship leaders Leigh out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.