THE Toronto Wolfpack scarves were being thrust at reporters during the RFL season’s launch.

The PR offensive was very much to the fore in York from the team who had hoped not to be there.

London Broncos spoiled that script when they inched past the hosts in last season’s Million Pound Game to claim the Super League ticket.

So instead Wolfpack – or the “over-dogs” as Brian Noble describes them – resume the tag of Championship promotion favourites for the second year.

The Toronto contingent were out in force at the media meet-and-greet with the Bulls legend joined by new head coach Brian McDermott and ambitious owner David Argyle.

Noble, the club’s director of rugby, only had to look around to appreciate the fierce competition he expects this year in a league that could serve up a treat.

“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher,” he said.

“You look at what Bradford have done, York fresh into the competition, Widnes of course and the traditional teams like Batley and Featherstone.

“All of a sudden, you are looking at quite an intense competition. Plenty will fancy it sneaking up on people.

“There’s a vibrancy in this room. That’s a reflection of what people are looking forward to.

“I know they are confident coaches and confident players. It’s going to be a good product.

“I’ve said over the last few years that there is some fantastic rugby to be watched in the Championship and League One.

“It’s a heart-felt situation for me this year having to play the Bulls a couple of times. I’ll have to close my eyes on some of that.

“But I’m thrilled that they are there – and they will be competitive.

“We think we are in a good place ourselves – but I’m sure all the other clubs do as well. Everyone will think that they are in with a chance this year.”

Noble and McDermott are back on familiar turf this afternoon for the final pre-season run-out as Toronto make their second visit to Odsal for the trans-Atlantic challenge.

Their next tussles will be more meaningful but today will still be a special one for the coach who enjoyed a trophy-laden six years in charge of his home-town club.

He laughed: “I’ll risk getting some bread buns thrown at me by saying I still want Bradford to get beaten!

“But I’m confident that it will be about the performance for both coaches. The tough stuff starts next week.

“I’ve been back to Odsal a few times but it will still feel a bit strange.

“I’ll be most tempted to walk into the wrong changing room, put it that way.

“But on the professional aspect of things, we’ve got a job to do and a mission to complete there.

“That doesn’t stop me feeling for everything that goes on at Bradford. I’m still a Bradford man through and through, born and bred.

“I’m looking forward to it. Both teams will want to be somewhere there or thereabouts with only a week before we start.

“We won’t be hiding anybody. Whoever’s on deck to play will be out there.”

The Bulls can relate to Toronto’s position as the team everybody wants to beat. It was a scenario that John Kear’s men faced throughout their year in League One.

Noble believes they have the players to handle it after picking themselves up from the heartbreak of falling at the final hurdle last season.

He said: “The club was a bit flat for a couple of months.

“That’s a natural reaction when you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride after nothing but positives and then are rightly beaten by the team who showed the most desire on the day.

“You have to take it on the chin. But you have to know adversity to really appreciate what success will feel like.

“There’s a big target on our backs everywhere we go – and our fronts.

“That’s the nature of the beast. We’re the new kids on the block and we’re a well-funded club.

“We’ve got good players and we have to handle the mantle of ‘over-dogs’.

“I’ve had plenty of times being an underdog.

“I’ve also clearly, when I coached at Bradford and Wigan, had to deal with being the favourites.

“I really enjoy being the latter, going to places knowing you really have to play. We’re not going to get any favours.

“Opposition teams have the storyline that they’ve got to beat this bunch because we are well-financed etc.

“But we’ve got some tough people and they will handle it well.”