Scotland have included 12 members of their World Cup squad that reached the quarter-finals in their player pool for the up-coming European Championships. Head coach Steve McCormack has named a 26-man squad which will be reduced to 20 ahead of the opening game against Wales at Workington’s Derwent Park on Friday 17 October.
As the Super League play-offs reach their climax, Huddersfield duo Danny Brough and Joe Wardle are both included – Brough is recovering from injury and Wardle returns after missing the World Cup through injury – but Warrington full-back Matt Russell is out as he requires an operation once the Wolves’ play-off campaign is over. A decision will be taken on Ian Henderson after he has played for Catalans Dragons against St Helens on Thursday night, while his brother Andrew has retired. Stalwart forwards Dale Ferguson and Mitchell Stringer are having operations. The three NRL stars from RLWC2013 are also unavailable: Peter Wallace is injured, Kane Linnett having surgery and Luke Douglas suspended.
“I’m delighted with this Scotland squad,” said McCormack, ten years in the job as head coach. “As always, we’ve been able to name an outstanding group of senior players, along with a number of exciting youngsters who are now involved in the Scotland Rugby League pathway.
“This year’ European Championship will be another tough competition and we’re really looking forward to getting the squad together. It’s important to build on last year’s fantastic World Cup and look to improve all aspects of performance, both on and off the field.”
World Cup forwards Brett Phillips and Sam Barlow are both in the squad in the week they were named in the Kingstone Press Championships All Stars – the team of the season for the second tier Championship.
Veteran forwards Lee Paterson, 33, and Iain Morrison, 31, return from the international wilderness, while Jonathan Walker rejoins brother Adam in the squad having missed the World Cup. New faces include Canterbury Bulldogs half-back Nathan Massey – the only player coming over from Australia for the tournament – and London Broncos’ 20-year-old centre Oscar Thomas. Massey, 23, played half a dozen games for Canberra Raiders in the NRL and is now with Grand Finalists Canterbury Bulldogs, where he has been back-up to Origin stars Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson.
McCormack has also called up eight teenagers, some of whom are expected to make their debuts while others will play for Scotland U19s on the same weekends as the senior games. London centre Harvey Burnett, Barrow’s Shane Toal, Hull KR winger Jack Stewart, and Richard Harris, who has just moved from London to Warrington, all played for Scotland U19s in their successful Commonwealth Championship campaign in June.
Teenage full-back Alex Walker and second-rower Sonny Esslemont have both made Super League debuts this year for London Broncos and Hull KR respectively. Another 19-year-old is Ryan Maneely, who plays hooker for Warrington Wolves in this weekend’s Super League Academy Grand Final, having been capped by England at U16 level. Wakefield Trinity loose forward Corbyn Kilday, who played last year for Scotland U18s, steps up.
Scotland gather on 12 October to prepare for the trip to west Cumbria to play John Kear’s Wales. They then face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday 25 October and finish their season against France on Friday 31 October at Galashiels. Tickets for the Wales and France games are available now on www.scotlandrl.com .
SCOTLAND initial 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), 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), Nathan Massey (Canterbury Bulldogs), Joe McLean (Gloucestershire All Golds), Iain Morrison (York City Knights), Lee Paterson (York City Knights), Brett Phillips (Workington Town), Callum Phillips (Workington Town), 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).
NB: Players are listed with their 2014 clubs regardless of loans, duel registrations or transfers for 2015 season.