Scotland vow to issue Brough justice
Defeat at the hands of the NSW Country under-23s hardly portends to a rollicking World Cup campaign but Scotland coach Steve McCormack has a trump up his sleeve that has already caused Tonga some World Cup heartache in halfback Danny Brough.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said that Brough "kicked us to death" when the two teams met in their opening pool game during the 2013 World Cup that ultimately prevented Tonga from advancing to the knockout stage, and Brough intends to use the same tactic in Cairns on Sunday afternoon to cause a monumental upset.
If there is one area in which a Tongan team that now boasts Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo is suspect it is in the halves, an area that is of least concern to McCormack with Brough ready to become Scotland's most capped player during the course of the tournament.
Brough was openly disgusted by the effort of an inexperienced Bravehearts team against the NSW Country boys in Ballina on Friday night but such is the class of the 34-year-old with 396 Super League games to his name that McCormack is adamant he can prove the difference against Tonga.
"I look around at this press conference today and there are some world class players and he's up there with the best, there's no doubt about that," said McCormack at a gathering of all 14 captains and coaches in Brisbane on Sunday.
"If you look at the world class players that are in this tournament, we've got one of the best.
"I'm delighted that he's on my side.
"Danny was great in that game [against Tonga in 2013], he was excellent in the Four Nations last year and we've got a few other players as well that cause a few threats."
Now head coach, Kristian Woolf was a part of the Tonga coaching staff when Brough engineered a 20-0 first half advantage for Scotland four years ago that Tonga were unable to rein in and he has no doubt he is the key man for a Bravehearts side missing the NRL experience of Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett and Euan Aitken.
"He did, he really got us," Woolf said of their meeting four years ago.
"He kicked three 40/20s in the first half and basically kicked us to death and had them up 20-nil at half-time and we couldn't get it back.
"He's a terrific little player. He's a really crafty, tricky little half. He's a little bit old-school in the way he plays, he's got a little bit of niggle about him and hides himself at different times really well so he's really hard to get at.
"He's one of those guys that have been around for a long time who really know the game and are really smart and know how to control a game and he's got a lot of tricks in his bag.
"He's going to be a real focus for them and he's going to be a real focus for us. Obviously we need to do a really good job on him."
An October afternoon in Cairns may be a long way removed from the conditions Brough is used to playing for Huddersfield in England, but he's hoping his trusty left boot can make life for the big Tongan team even more uncomfortable.
"I'll be trying to keep the ball in play against the big Tongan side, keep the ball moving and try and tire them out," Brough said ahead of his 21st appearance for Scotland.
"It's one of our aims, to keep the ball in play, kick long and chase hard and keep them moving. Keep them going up and down and hopefully tire them out, pick a few weaknesses out and hopefully go from there.
"The kicking game is a big part of it but you've got to get that go forward first before you can kick the ball on the front foot."