McCormack: Domestic league key for Scotland’s development

Scotland head coach Steve McCormack has described the necessary steps which are being taken to create a brighter future for Scottish rugby league.

The Bravehearts are in a buoyant mood for next year’s World Cup after pulling off a historic draw against world number one New Zealand in the Four Nations.

“There are things now being put in place to ensure the domestic league takes off,” McCormack told Love Rugby League.

“The key is making sure domestically that we get a bit stronger and kids starting playing the game up in Scotland and we start developing a few more people like David Scott, who has come through the pathway.”

Scotland were the first team in Four Nations history outside the big three to earn a point in the competition.

McCormack emphasized that his team weren’t in the tournament just to make up the numbers.

“Coming into the tournament we wanted to make sure that we put Scotland on the map a little bit,” he said.

“I read loads of things and listened to a lot of people just saying that Scotland didn’t deserve to be in the competition.”

“I thought our performances over the four-week period were outstanding and I just felt as though the whole team conducted themselves really well both on and off the field.”

Scotland’s first match saw them suffer a heavy 54-12 defeat at the hands of Australia, but they responded admirably against England and were leading the hosts 8-0 for a part of the first half.

Whilst the loss against Australia was disappointing for McCormack he never doubted that his players would go again and give a good account of themselves in the other two matches.

“It was a whirlwind start from Australia and I thought they were fantastic as they’ve shown in the other games in the tournament,” he said.

“I was disappointed that the scoreline just went away from us in the England game.

“Experience and a bit more quality just got us in the end.”

McCormack, who has been in charge of Scotland for over 12 years, admits the signs they could spring an upset against the Kiwis were there long before the game kicked off.

“I could sense something on Thursday night, Friday morning prior to the game with the mood in the camp,” he said.

When asked if he could pick out any standout individuals from his squad, McCormack refused and explained how everyone was part of a collective effort.

“I think it is unfair to single anyone out really,” he said.

“If we are going to achieve anything and perform to the best of our ability then all of those players have got to play as one.

“That includes the lads who didn’t get a cap. People like Ryan Maneely and Kieran Moran were superb in camp. Dave Scott was also brilliant in camp.”

When Scotland’s 24-man squad for the Four Nations was announced there were a number of players included from the Championship, which shows the strength of the competition according to McCormack.

“You look at the Phillips brothers, Callum came on against England and it was a massive ask but he did outstandingly well,” he said.

“Then Brett came on at a crucial time against New Zealand on Friday night in his hometown and really stepped up.

“You wouldn’t have picked him out as a Championship player.”

The Bravehearts might have made significant progress in showing that they can mix it with the best sides in the world, but McCormack is keen to see further improvement ahead of the World Cup next year.

“The big thing for us is just making sure we build from here,” he said.

“My thoughts went straight to the World Cup as the game finished last Friday.

“In the World Cup we have got three tough games in tough environments.”

In terms of preparation for next year’s World Cup, McCormack would love to have a mid-season international but pointed out the problems in organizing such a match.

“It would be great to have a game halfway through the domestic season but the pressure of getting players released for the international calendar is always tough,” he said.

“We are based in Cairns next year so we are looking at whether we can get a game prior to that in Australia somewhere.”