TORONTO — The Toronto Wolfpack, beefing up for life in the second-tier Championship, have signed hooker Andy Ackers and English international loose forward Joe Westerman.
They are the sixth and seventh off-season additions for the rugby league team, which won the Kingstone Press League 1 title in its first year to secure promotion.
The Wolfpack, rugby's first transatlantic team, have already signed Australians Dave Taylor and Josh McCrone, Albanian-born Olsi Krasniqi, Fiji international Ashton Sims and English back Tom Armstrong.
Toronto (20-1-1) won the third-tier championship with a small — albeit fully professional —roster of 22-23 players. Coach Paul Rowley estimated he needed eight or nine more players for life in the Championship.
Like Sims, the 27-year-old Westerman joins the Wolfpack from Warrington Wolves.
"I was attracted to the club because of what I'm seeing and hearing (from) players who are already there," Westerman said in a Toronto release. "It's a massive club with great support and I think it's only going to get better and bigger. I want to be part of a side that gets the club into Super League where I think it belongs."
Westerman made his debut at 17 for Castleford Tigers and won the 2008 Young Player of the Year award in the Super League.
He moved to Hull FC in 2011, earning his England debut against Samoa in the 2014 Four Nations. The six-foot-four, 235-pounder switched to Warrington in 2015 on a 150,000-pound (C$250,500) transfer fee.
"With almost 300 games under Joe's belt already at the highest levels of the game, this is a real coup for the Wolfpack with Joe's best years still in front of him," Brian Noble, the Wolfpack's director of rugby, said in a statement.
The 23-year-old Ackers joins Toronto from the London Broncos, having made almost 100 senior level appearances in the Championship. After making his debut for Swinton Lions in 2014, Ackers signed for London in 2016.
The five-foot-10, 198-pound Ackers, who had 12 tries in 19 appearances for London this season, joins Bob Beswick at dummy half.
"He is a young player who learns very quickly and I am confident the Wolfpack will provide the right environment for Andy to continue his rapid development," said Noble.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press