SEIZING the opportunity to play international rugby league again is proving revitalising for Ruairi McGoff after his recent involvement with Canada’s attempt to qualify for the 2021 World Cup.

Having helped Ulverston achieve promotion as North West Men’s League Division Two champions this year, the former Barrow Raiders prop was then flying out to Jacksonville, Florida, to take part in last month’s Americas Championship.

Sadly for McGoff and his Canadian team-mates, a 38-8 defeat to eventual qualifiers Jamaica ended their World Cup hopes – although they did have the consolation of beating Chile 62-12 in the third-place play-off.

But to go from playing in front of a handful of supporters at Dragley Beck to big crowds at Hodges Stadium was a nice throwback for McGoff, while it has potentially opened the door for the 33-year-old to return to the professional game as well.

“I’ve played semi-pro for quite a few years, so to play for your local team and then have the opportunity to go and play at international level and play in front of those type of crowds again was good,” said McGoff.

“It was fantastic. We had a handful of guys who had played semi-pro, but the Jamaican team who ended up beating us, I think over three-quarters of them were English-based.

“They had a few Super League players and a few Championship players, so it was good to be playing at that level. I really enjoyed.

“Off the back of that, I’ve had some semi-pro clubs get in contact with me, so it’s worked out well for me in that respect.”

Qualifying for Canada by virtue of his mother being born in Toronto, McGoff made his debut for Canada seven years ago in a 36-22 defeat to South Africa.

He has witnessed a surge in interest in rugby league across the Atlantic in that time, particularly with Toronto Wolfpack joining the British professional ranks.

And while McGoff is one of a pool of overseas-based players who pull on the Wolverines jersey, 11 of the 21-man squad for the Americas Championship were from Canadian amateur clubs.

“It’s developing hugely,” said McGoff. “Canadians are very passionate about supporting their country in any sport, but obviously it’s growing arms and legs, and every year they’re getting more and more people.

“The crowds they are getting at those Wolfpack games, they’re getting them for the international games as well. You quite often get 7,000 people watching.

“It’s a shame we missed out on that World Cup spot and I think it would have really kick-started the country’s push to make rugby league more popular.”