Scotland have announced their provisional squad ahead pf the Rugby League World Cup 2017 down under this autumn. Head coach Steve McCormack has stuck with his tried and trusted Bravehearts who took Scotland to the quarter-finals in 2013, won the 2014 European Championship and drew with then world-number one nation New Zealand last November.
The squad is led as ever by joint record-appearance-maker Danny Brough, who has played in 23 internationals for Scotland since McCormack handed him his debut in his first game in charge back in 2004.
“Danny played in my first game and has been virtually ever-present since,” explains McCormack. “It would be very easy for Danny, a top professional, former Man of Steel, to have four weeks off at the end of every season and go on holiday but people like Danny, and those other players, make a firm commitment to us every year. It’s tough on their families and its tough on their bodies but that’s the beauty of what we’ve got at Scotland: a really strong bunch, totally committed to the cause.”
Other regulars for the last few years included are Brough’s Huddersfield team-mate Dale Ferguson, Hull KR duo Danny Addy and Ben Kavanagh, and Wakefield prop Adam Walker, all of whom have 14 caps, and London Broncos’ centre Ben Hellewell, who has played 15 times.
“They’ve not only been reliable but have always played well in big tournaments against the best in the world,” says McCormack. “Last year they were sensational. They won’t be intimidated about playing the likes of Tonga and New Zealand as we’ve played them before and matched them.”
The pool includes 22 of those in the Scotland squad at the Four Nations last year, with NRL stars Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett and Euan Aitken named, while Peter Wallace and Joe Wardle, who missed the Four Nations through injury, are back to take the NRL contingent to five.
There are seven uncapped players in the provisional squad, all of most of whom have been involved with Scotland before. Rochdale hooker Ryan Maneely and forward Kieran Moran, on loan at York City Knights from Hull KR this season, were both members of the Scotland squad at the Four Nations last season but only played the warm-up fixture at Barrow. Keighley’s Davie Dixon and Brandan Wilkinson of Bradford Bulls came through the Under-19s while Australian-based Liam Faughlan played for the Students in the recent Universities World Cup and had a trial for Glasgow Warriors rugby union club earlier this year.
The new names are both young outside backs: 21-year-old Lachlan Stein from NRL giants Penrith Panthers and 18-year-old Will Oakes, who has broken into the Hull KR first team.
The provisional squad also includes two former Edinburgh Eagles players who have progressed through the SRL player pathway to earn two full caps each during the 2015 European Championships who are now testing themselves in the tough Australian club competitions: 22-year-old half-back Lewis Clarke from Galashiels, who is now at Moore Park Broncos in South Sydney, and Glaswegian second rower Scott Plumridge, 21, who is with Mittagong Lions.
“I’ve said to the players: selection will be based on performances,” says McCormack. “It doesn’t matter whether you are in the NRL, Super League or bottom of the Championship. I know a lot about these players, know I can trust them and just hope they can perform over these next seven or eight weeks and get on that plane.
“We’ve had our first team meeting and there is a fall-out programme that players will join as their club season ends, once they have gone on holiday for a break to recharge ahead of the World Cup. We might add two or three more to this group as we get nearer the tournament: this not a definitive list so there is time for other players to force their way in.”
Scotland RLWC2017 Provisional Squad
Player – 2017 club – Scotland appearances
Danny Addy - Hull KR – 14
Euan Aitken - St George Illawarra Dragons - 3
Ryan Brierley - Toronto Wolfpack - 2
Sam Brooks - Featherstone Rovers - 3
Danny Brough - Huddersfield Giants – 23
Brett Carter - Barrow Raiders - 6
Lewis Clarke - Moore Park Broncos - 2
Lachlan Coote - North Queensland Cowboys - 3
Davie Dixon - Keighley Cougars - 0
Luke Douglas - St Helens - 8
Liam Faughlan - Maitland Pickers - 0
Dale Ferguson - Huddersfield Giants - 14
Ben Hellewell - London Broncos – 15
Liam Hood - Leigh Centurions - 7
Ben Kavanagh - Hull KR - 14
Kane Linnett - North Queensland Cowboys - 7
Frankie Mariano - Featherstone Rovers - 2
Joe McClean - Gloucestershire All Golds - 4
Ryan Maneely - Rochdale Hornets - 0
Kieran Moran – Hull KR+ - 0
Will Oakes - Hull KR - 0
Brett Phillips - Workington Town - 9
Calum Phillips - Workington Town - 5
Scott Plumridge - Mittagong Lions - 2
Sheldon Powe-Hobbs - Northern Pride - 1
Matthew Russell - Warrington Wolves - 8
David Scott - Batley Bulldogs - 13
Lachlan Stein - Penrith Panthers - 0
Oscar Thomas - London Broncos - 6
Lewis Tierney - Wigan Warriors* - 3
Adam Walker - Wakefield Trinity - 14
Alex Walker - London Broncos - 3
Jonathan Walker - Darlington Point Roosters - 6
Peter Wallace - Penrith Panthers - 4
Joe Wardle - Newcastle Knights - 6
Brandan Wilkinson - Bradford Bulls – 0
*on loan at Catalans Dragons
+ on loan at York City Knights
The Bravehearts have been drawn in Pool B of this year’s Rugby League World Cup and will play New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga during the pool stages, with the top three teams progressing to the Quarter-Finals:
Scotland vs Tonga, 29 October 2017, Barlow Park (Cairns)
Scotland vs New Zealand, 4 November 2017, Christchurch Stadium
Scotland vs Samoa, 11 November 2017, Barlow Park (Cairns)