Matthew Russell feels as though he is living a dream as he and his squad prepare to face New Zealand in their Rugby League World Cup 2013 quarter-final clash at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday (8.00pm).
Russell, who was named man of the match in Scotland’s final group game victory over the USA, had to sit with the rest of his Bravehearts squad, watch and hope that Tonga defeated Italy on Sunday, to guarantee them a place in the RLWC2013 last eight.
“All the boys felt under pressure just watching it,” said Russell. “But Tonga got the win so it was really good. The boys were really loving it and we were buzzing for Tonga, so to get through to play the Kiwis was really good for us.
“The preparations have been really good and the guys have worked hard in training, we have recovered well and got a few days off so we are really looking forward to taking on the Kiwis.
“That has been one of the biggest dreams, to play against teams like the Kiwis, so I am really looking forward to it.
“They are in great form and won the last World Cup when they beat Australia in that final, so it will be a really tough game but I am really looking forward to it.”
Full-back Russell is confident in his squad’s abilities and feels that the Bravehearts can cause problems for the defending world champions but, whatever happens, the Gold Coast Titans player is thoroughly enjoying his time with Scotland at RLWC2013.
“We know we can beat them,” said Russell. “We come in as underdogs but you never know what can happen, anyone can turn anyone over, so the mood is really good.
“We have definitely got a good attacking threat in our side. I have seen some clips of Shaun Johnson and he has being playing well for New Zealand against France etcetera, so it should be a really good game.
“I am really loving playing in the World Cup. I am just doing what I can do and just looking to impress as many people as I can, so it has been really good. Everyone is really close and we have got a good bond so all the lads get on really well.
“We have had really good support so far, I think we are good at turning crowds to support us because we are really passionate about Scotland.”
Scotland head coach Steve McCormack has named his 19 man squad to play New Zealand at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday (20:00)