European Championship Preview: Scotland

Scotland have a chance to build on their fine display at last year’s World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals, losing to New Zealand.

They managed fine wins over Tonga and the United States and fought an impressive Italy team to thrilling draw at Workington.

With most of that squad still in place, Scotland have a fine chance of winning the European Championship.

Their cause has been hampered though by the absence of some key men. Catalan Dragons hooker Ian Henderson is not fit enough to participate in the tournament, while his brother Andrew has retired.

The NRL contingent of Peter Wallace, Kane Linnett and Luke Douglas are also all missing. Wallace and Linnett are injured, whilst Douglas is suspended.

But the main man is most definitely in place.

There is a Scots word ‘gallus’ which means a combination of flash, flair, skill and touch of arrogance. Often used in reference to Scottish footballers like Jim Baxter or James McFadden, Danny Brough is its rugby league embodiment.

Undoubtedly the Bravehearts’ star man, the former Man of Steel might well be the best player in the entire tournament. His leadership, attacking ability and kicking game might just take Scotland into the 2016 Four Nations, which would be a superb legacy to leave behind, and give him a real personal incentive to keep playing international rugby.

“To play international rugby is something that you want to do as a kid,” Brough told Love Rugby League.

“It’s something I enjoy doing, I have a good crack with the lads.

“I have a good relationship with Steve McCormack. I like getting along to take part at the end of the season.

“We had a great squad in the World Cup. Obviously the Aussies aren’t over for this competition, but Steve’s put a decent squad together.

“We’ll be looking to go out and do our best, as you have to do in international rugby, and we’ll be looking to win every game in the tournament.”

Coach Profile:

Another Scots word comes to mind when discussing Scotland’s coach Steve McCormack: canny. McCormack showed a superb ability to motivate and organise his team at last year’s World Cup, and, with many of the same personnel in place for this tournament, he should be able to continue his good work. Not many Scottish national teams in any sport come out looking as confident as the Bravehearts did last year.

McCormack is also ably assisted by John Duffy, and the former Leigh hooker and current Swinton coach is excited by the tournament ahead.

“It’s good to get back in camp with the national team,” Duffy told Love Rugby League.

“All the players are looking forward to it. We had a good session at Dewsbury this week, and all the lads are excited to get back after last year’s World Cup.”

Player to Watch:

The Workington Town halfback Callum Phillips, who might well be playing at hooker for the Scots in the tournament, is a player of some promise. The 22-year-old has put in some great performances for his club in the Championship this season, and his creative spark should complement Brough well. Playing at his club ground against Wales should help his confidence.

“I think young Callum will do well at hooker,” John Duffy said.

“He’s really dynamic coming out of dummy half.”

Love Rugby League Prediction:

Although not as strong as they were for the World Cup, the Bravehearts still have one of the stronger squads in the tournament. Their clash with France at Gala could be key to determining the final outcome of the competition. Although probably not as naturally gifted as the French squad, they have an indomitable spirit, a great coach and the tournament’s best player. This should be enough to see them claim that spot in the 2016 Four Nations with a tournament title.

Scotland Squad:

Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls), Josh Barlow (Swinton Lions), Sam Barlow (Leigh Centurions), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Harvey Burnett (London Broncos), Brett Carter (Workngton Town), Lewis Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), Sonny Esslemont (Hull KR), Richard Harris (Warrington Wolves), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers), Alex Hurst (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Ben Kavanagh (Widnes Vikings), Corbyn Kilday (Wakefield Trinity), Ryan Manelly (Warrington Wolves), Nathan Massey (Canterbury Bulldogs), Joe McLean (Gloucestershire All Golds), Iain Morrison (York City Knights), Finn Murphy (Edinburgh Eagles), Lee Paterson (York City Knights), Brett Phillips (Workington Town), Callum Phillips (Workington Town),Gregor Ramsay (Easterhouse Panthers), Louis Senter (Halifax), David Scott (Doncaster), Jack Stewart (Hull KR), Oscar Thomas (London Broncos), Shane Toal (Barrow Raiders), Adam Walker (Hull KR), Alex Walker (London Broncos), Jonathan Walker (Leigh Centurions), Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants).

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