My Ultimate Team: Steve McCormack picks greatest 13 of players he’s coached, including Martin Offiah, Scotland stars

Drew Darbyshire
Steve McCormack Ultimate Team Alamy

Former Scotland coach Steve McCormack (left) is Love Rugby League's next guest on My Ultimate Team

Steve McCormack is the next guest on Love Rugby League‘s My Ultimate Team feature, selecting the best 1-13 of players he had the pleasure of coaching.

McCormack, who hails from Wigan, enjoyed a fine coaching career spanning across two decades at the highest level, having coached Salford, Whitehaven, Widnes, Gateshead, Barrow, Swinton and Gloucestershire in clubland.

But he will probably be most recognised for being the head coach of Scotland, having been the longest-serving coach in the nation’s history having held the role between 2004 and 2017, leading the Bravehearts in three World Cups.

These days, McCormack is the director of wellbeing and welfare at Rugby League Cares and England Rugby League.

And with so much experience under coaching cap, McCormack’s ultimate team is, as you’d expect, pretty impressive..

1. Lachlan Coote (Scotland)

Lachlan Coote, Scotland

Quiet but a leader. Everything he did was just quality on and off the field. He came from winning the NRL Grand Final with the Cowboys to an environment at Scotland where we didn’t really have anything. We didn’t have great training facilities or much money or anything like that but his transition from that to us was flawless. His attitude was first class.

2. Craig Calvert (Whitehaven)

There’s been loads of good wingers I’ve coached but I’m going to say Craig Calvert in this team. He was on the wing to David Seeds, I think Darren Albert beat Calvert in a race for the fastest player in the game here at Robin Park, but Calvert was just quality. Similar to Seedsy, he could’ve stepped up to Super League but he was at Sellafield and his family were settled up there in Cumbria, but I’d have picked him in any team I had. I’ve never see anything like him pace-wise, but he was tough and hard too.

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3. David Seeds (Whitehaven)

David was a centre for me during my time at Whitehaven, a record try-scorer for Whitehaven and a Hall of Famer there. Without doubt he could have stepped up to Super League, but he had a very good job at Sellafield. He did really well, was consistent, prolific, defended well: I’ve got no hesitation that he could’ve been a top class Super League player. He is a Whitehaven legend, but Seedsy could’ve made the step up and played for a Wigan or St Helens.

4. David Peachey (Widnes)

He came over and had a short spell at Widnes as a fullback and went back to Australia for family reasons. He was unbelievable. What he could do with the ball was just magic. You could see why he’d been successful in the NRL when he came over to us. It’s probably one of my regrets that I didn’t get to coach him for longer: he was just brilliant.

5. Martin Offiah (Salford)

Martin Offiah Salford Alamy

This one speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I coached Martin at the back end of his career at Salford when I took over from John Harvey. Martin was one of my heroes growing up watching all the Wigan sides, so to have the opportunity first-hand to see what he was like.. Just quality. A superstar in both codes but he was really good with the young players as well, that was a big thing I noticed.

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6. Peter Wallace (Scotland)

He came over from Australia for the 2013 World Cup. He was quiet and unassuming but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody speak as well on a field, he was an organiser and was tough. We played Tonga, Italy, USA and New Zealand in that competition and Peter was sensational in all of those games.

7. Danny Brough (Scotland)

The best on-field kicker ever in both codes, potentially! Short kicking, long kicking, goal kicking.. He had it all – but he had so much to his game did Broughy. We had 14 years with Scotland and throughout that time I probably didn’t work with a more committed player than him. And in the big games against the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Tonga, Broughy always stepped up. He was as passionate as anybody to play for Scotland, his heritage was really special to him.

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8. Terry O’Connor (Widnes)

I had Tez at the back end of his career at Widnes. He was just so professional, so honest, told things as they were, no shortcuts: just a leader. He looked after himself off the field, you could why he played so many games with his longevity. He was proud to play for his hometown club.

9. Ian Henderson (Scotland)

Ian Henderson Scotland Alamy

Hendo first played for Scotland in the 2008 World Cup I think. He was a key player for the likes of Bradford, Roosters and Catalans. I remember we played Fiji and we were massive underdogs on paper, but Hendo was sensational in that game and we won. He was hard as nails and led from the front.

10. Luke Douglas (Scotland)

Dougie played a record amount of consecutive games in the NRL for a front-rower so to do that is sensational and he came over here to St Helens and Leigh and did the same. For me with Scotland, he led from the front and never let me down.

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11. David Hulme (Salford)

I was at Salford with David when I was assistant to Andy Gregory. David was one of the toughest players I’ve coached, he wasn’t the biggest but he could play anywhere. He was everything you want in a player, horrible to play against but was a true leader. That was 30 years ago when I was coaching him but he always sticks out to me. He was brilliant.

12. Morgan Smithies (Wigan)

Morgan Smithies Wigan Warriors Alamy

I coached Morgan in the Under-16s at Wigan and spent a bit of time in the academy with him. He is probably one of the players that challenged me more than any other player in terms of wanting feedback and wanting to get better. He was first on the field and the last off, so to see his progression from a very young player to now is good to see. He is always a 7 or 8 out of 10 is Morgan and is doing well in the NRL now.

Attitude-wise, he has had a lot of pressure from a young age, he was always seen as the main player within his age group but every time he has stepped up. He does all the little things that nobody really recognises like pushing up in defence, tough carries, tracking back in defence: all the things that don’t make the headlines and he has done that since being a kid.

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13. Aaron Lester (Whitehaven)

Aaron was one of a couple of Kiwi players that came over to Whitehaven in the 90s. Throughout my three or four years at Whitehaven, Aaron was a standout in that division and could play 9 or 13. He could’ve stepped up to play in Super League as well, his brother Stuart played at Wigan. Aaron had everything, he was first class.

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