Henderson calls for more backing for Scotland

London Broncos coach Andrew Henderson is already looking forward to this year’s Four Nations tournament, in which Scotland will take on the might of Australia, New Zealand and ‘the Auld Enemy’ England.

Henderson played 22 times for Scotland in a career which culminated at the 2013 World Cup.

“I’m really excited,” he told Love Rugby League.

“What a fantastic acheivement it is for Scotland to even be in this competition, and that’s a credit to the players, first and foremost, and the coaching staff, that’ve steadily improved the team and the achievements of the team over the last few years.

“It was a successful World Cup Scotland had in 2013, which I was fortunate enough to be involved with, and off the back of that they had a successful European Cup campaign, which gained them the opportunity to compete at this level against the three big guns.

“It’s really, really exciting, it’s awesome, and it’s going to be a great opportunity for other players now to put their hand up and represent Scotland.

“It’s chance to try and establish some sort of foothold in Scotland itself, and get the message across that we do have a rugby league team in Scotland, and it’s quite a successful one.

“So the message is come out and support us.”

Despite that excitement, however, Henderson feels that the time is right for the Scottish government and Sport Scotland to step up and offer the game more support North of the Border.

Only with that significant support, especially financial, can the development work done in Scotland begin to show results, he thinks.

“Can we get Sport Scotland to support rugby league in a better capacity, in terms of its funding and recognition? That’s what the aim is,” he said.

“That takes a lot of time, planning and funding. It takes the Scottish government to recognise rugby league.

“It takes the Scottish government to accept rugby league as a successful professional sport, and it needs them to give some funding towards it.

“The RFL needs to support it more too, but we need the Scottish government to buy into it too.

“Then you’ve got some funding and you can start to develop the game properly.

“I believe that there has been some forms of development done in Scotland previously, but, like anything it’s lacked support and resource.

“Unfortunately, it’s not been able to continue to move forward, it’s kind of stagnated, to be fair, and is even possibly dwindling to some degree.”

Only with greater support can the sport put down the roots it needs to produce more Scottish-born and raised players to represent the national team, according to Henderson.

The Broncos coach feels that heritage players such as a himself will have to provide the bulk of the team’s personnel until that time.

“It needs to have a little bit more support and finance put into it, then, potentially, we could see some future stars, who are Scottish-born and bred, who have come through a Scottish system, representing Scotland,” he said.

“But until that happens, we are going to have to rely on players with heritage – that’s just a fact.

“Not that guys with heritage aren’t proud to wear the thistle on their chest – because they are.

“I know that myself. I wasn’t born in Scotland, but my father was Scottish, and I was brought up with a lot of Scottish traditions in the household.

“I was very proud to represent Scotland, as were my brothers. As were all the players I played with at that time.

“There’s certainly no shortage of people who are passionate, and believe in representing Scotland and are proud to do so.

“But it would be great to see more Scottish-born and bred players come through the system and represent Scotland at rugby league in the future.

“But for me, sadly, it’s a long way away.”

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