Toronto housing prices may be off the charts but Simoni Lawrence believes the Hamilton Tiger-Cats get to live at BMO Field rent-free.
The Ticats’ star linebacker is returning to the lineup this week after a three-game absence and there is no better venue to jump back into the action than in Toronto against their rival Argonauts.
“Toronto is a good place. It’s kind of like our second home, our fans love going out there,” the outspoken Lawrence quipped to the Hamilton media on Friday.
“We have a great time out there. Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve been very successful there. I just like the fact that our fans love travelling down there. It’s not a secret, when we go to Toronto that’s one of their biggest crowds. That’s big ups to our fans in Hamilton for loving the game so much.”
The Ticats visit to BMO Field on Saturday will be the first of four matchups this season between the QEW rivals, all of which will take place in the next five weeks. Every game between the Ontario neighbours carries a little extra baggage, as Lawrence knows too well.
“We understand the mission and going into an environment like that, where it’s like, ‘Toronto, Toronto’; it’s supposed to be the big city and just being out here in Hamilton, we’ve got to represent for Hamilton,” he said dramatically. “I’m sure there are some rivalries from Hamilton and Toronto. We’re not just fighting our war. We’re fighting some Toronto-Hamilton wars as well.”
When those battles have been fought in The Six, the Ticats hold a slim 61-58-1 advantage all-time. Contrary to Lawrence’s bravado, they’ve lost their last two regular season matchups at BMO Field but Hamilton has come up with the victory when it really counts. Their last visit to the facility was a 27-19 victory in the 2021 East Final, earning a second straight Grey Cup appearance.
That game was marred by off-the-field incidents post-game when the Argos clashed physically with members of the visiting black and gold faithful while attempting to enter their locker room. Players would enter the stands during the altercation, resulting in a three-game suspension for strong-side linebacker Chris Edwards and the termination of vice-president of player personnel John Murphy.
While the incident was allegedly triggered by Ticats fans, team discipline has been an issue of late for the Argos — with incidents on the field, on the sidelines, and in the locker room. Hamilton’s defensive leader believes that is not a problem for his team.
“I feel like that’s easy, controlling emotions in a game that you get paid to go out there and win,” Lawrence said.
“The objective of the game is always to win and I feel like we do a great job here understanding you can have tough battles but you don’t really have to prove who’s tough when you’re playing a game of football. There’s gonna be things said back and forth but you learn early, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Amidst all the trash talk, there will be some friendly words exchanged during the rivalry game this time around.
Saturday marks the first time that former Ticats Brandon Banks and Ja’Gared Davis will face their old teammates since defecting to Toronto but, in typical fashion, Lawrence won’t promise to acknowledge either of them.
“My mom did tell me to go and give JG and Speedy a hug after the game,” he said cheekily. “I’m still thinking about it.”