Scotland have been boosted by the return of Super League star Danny Brough as they gear up for a tournament that could propel them into the top tier of the sport.
The winners of the 2010 Alitalia European Cup – a tournament involving Scotland, France, Ireland and Wales - will join Australia, New Zealand and England in the 2011 Gillette Four Nations.
The Scots will name a strong 25-man squad next week for the Alitalia European Cup competition but 27-year-old Brough has confirmed his intention to play. The Huddersfield Giants half-back already has seven Scotland caps to his name, including an appearance in the Bravehearts’ first ever Rugby League World Cup victory, an 18-16 defeat of Fiji in 2008.
Scotland face Wales in their opening match at Old Anniesland, Glasgow, on Sunday October 10 before travelling to face France in Toulouse on Saturday October 16 and Ireland in Dublin on Sunday October 24.
With the Scotland A side recently lifting the domestic Four Nations trophy, confidence is high as Head Coach Steve McCormack explained: "France are considered as favourites but we are quietly confident and believe we can do very well in this tournament.
"We are away in Ireland and France but if we can overcome the Welsh in front of a good crowd at Old Anniesland in Glasgow then we are on our way. We want as many fans to get behind the team on the 10th October. It really can make a difference.
"I will be naming a strong squad that includes a number of players who play at, or have experience of Super League and they will be a match for anybody in the tournament.
"I'm delighted that Danny is on board. He's been an integral part of the Scotland set-up since I've been involved and I know that he's very keen to represent his country in this tournament and be part of the squad as we build towards the 2013 World Cup.
"Rugby League is making strides forward in Scotland and of late there have been a lot of encouraging signs especially with the A team's success and a great domestic Grand Final between Carluke and Edinburgh Eagles.
"There's a big prize at stake for winning this year's Alitalia European Cup and you can bet that Scotland will be in the running for that place at Rugby League's top table," added Steve.
Alitalia European Cup fixtures
Saturday October 9 - France v Ireland (Avignon) 3.30pm CET
Sunday October 10 - Scotland v Wales (Old Anniesland, Glasgow) 2.30pm
Saturday October 16 - France v Scotland (Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse) 3.30pm CET
Sunday October 17 - Wales v Ireland (The Gnoll, Neath) 2pm
Saturday October 23 October - France v Wales (Stade Municipale d'Albi) 3.30pm CET
Sunday October 24 - Ireland v Scotland (Tallaght, Dublin) 2.30pm
Widnes coach Denis Betts has played down suggestions that refereeing decisions cost his team the game against Warrington last week.
Rugby league has been part of Alex Murphy OBE's life for as long as he can remember. It was just over 60 years ago last week that the young 'Murph' signed his first professional deal with St Helens, in 1955.