In a major boost, Scotland will again be captained by Danny Brough for their defence of the European Championship this autumn, after the Huddersfield Giants star – voted into Super League’s Dream Team this week as the best stand-off in the competition – turned down the option of having a full off-season.
Brough has spent the last two autumns playing for Scotland and has committed to doing so again – provided he comes through the Super League play-offs unscathed, starting with tomorrow night’s semi-final at Wigan. With the Four Nations in 2016 and 2017 World Cup on the horizon, 32-year-old Brough could have been expected to take this tournament off. Instead he will lead the Bravehearts from the front.
“It tells you everything about the man,” said Scotland head coach Steve McCormack, who has worked with Brough since his first training camp 11 years ago. “It would have been easy for him to say ‘I need a rest’, but from the start of preparations for this year’s European Championship he said he wanted to play. That has a huge effect on the rest of the group and a massive impact on how we play. Having one of the world’s best half-backs leading us is superb, and brings out the best in the players around him.”
If he plays in all three games in the tournament, Brough will join Andrew Henderson as Scotland’s most-capped international on 21 appearances. He is already the nation’s top points scorer on 116.
Brough is one of five current Super League players in a 29-man squad named by McCormack that will be reduced to 20 for the first game on 16 October. Prop Adam Walker, who played for Hull KR in the Challenge Cup final in August and Widnes forward Ben Kavanagh, currently on-loan at Wakefield, are among 12 survivors from the squad that reached the World Cup quarter-finals two years ago, and 14 who won the European title last year, Scotland’s first silverware.
Salford hooker Liam Hood returns for the first time since winning his only cap in 2012 and Wakefield forward Jon Molloy is one of nine uncapped players in the squad. Of those, only Australian-based Billy McConnachie, who won Man of the Match in the Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup Grand Final last weekend, has not been involved with Scotland RL before.
Edinburgh Eagles forward Craig Borthwick gets a recall after missing out the last two years, while young full-back Alex Walker is one of five players who have appeared for London Broncos this season. Edinburgh Eagles trio Lewis Clarke, Finn Murphy – who was Man of the Match for St Andrews University when they won the Varsity Match against Edinburgh in front of 10,000 fans at Murrayfield last Friday – and Finlay Hutchison; Warrington winger Richard Harris and Barrow centre Shane Toal all step up from last year’s Scotland Under-19 squad.
Workington forwards Brett Phillips and Alex Szostak, and Huddersfield centre Joe Wardle all miss out due to requiring operations, while Australian-based trio Kane Linnett – who plays in Sunday’s NRL Grand Final for North Queensland Cowboys – Peter Wallace and Luke Douglas have been rested.
Scotland, who get together for their first training session on Sunday, open their defence of the European title against Wales on Friday 16 October, then play Ireland at Galashiels on Friday 23 October before finishing their fixtures in Avignon against France on Saturday 7 November.
Scotland training squad:
Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls), Josh Barlow (Swinton Lions), Sam Barlow (Leigh Centurions), Craig Borthwick (Edinbugh Eagles), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Harvey Burnett (unattached), Brett Carter (Workington Town), Lewis Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), Sonny Esslemont (Hull KR), Dale Ferguson (Bradford Bulls), Richard Harris (Warrington Wolves), Ben Hellewell (London Broncos), Liam Hood (Salford Red Devils), Finlay Hutchison (Edinburgh Eagles), Ben Kavanagh (Widnes Vikings), Corbyn Kilday (Central Queensland Capras), Billy McConnachie (Ipswich Jets), Jon Molloy(Wakefield Trinity), Finn Murphy (Edinburgh Eagles), Callum Phillips (Workington Town), Scott Plumridge (Edinburgh Eagles), Craig Robertson (Edinburgh Eagles), David Scott (Doncaster), Mitch Stringer (Sheffield Eagles), Shane Toal (Barrow Raiders), Oscar Thomas (London Broncos), Adam Walker (Hull KR), Alex Walker (London Broncos), Johnny Walker (Leigh Centurions)