After a grueling season of Rugby League – which can often begin all the way back around Christmas time with pre-season training – there are probably few Rugby League fans out there that would begrudge a top player a few weeks off to relax.
They might go on holiday, or they might simply put their feet up to rest, in order to be fighting fit by the time pre-season inevitably rolls around again. And after the intensity of the World Cup last year – which meant many players barely got a break whatsoever – the luxury of a few weeks off would have no doubt sounded even sweeter for some players.
However, Danny Brough is a man who falls firmly outside of that school of thought. After a full season with Huddersfield in 2013, Brough tossed himself into the intensity of the World Cup, captaining Scotland to a very credible quarter-final berth in the tournament – a campaign which helped to increase the prominence of the game up North. Then he jumped straight back into domestic action, captaining the Giants to what ultimately proved to be another disappointing play-off campaign.
But a rest has never once crossed Brough’s mind; he’s going around again with Scotland, aiming to lead them to European Championship glory in 2014. After a successful World Cup last year, the anticipation for this tournament was understandably rather large. However, lots of big names are not involved – for one reason or another – and the failure to attract a TV deal is a worrying concern for those involved with the international game.
Brough though, is very much an exception to the rule when it comes to the international arena. In fact, he is a credit to what the RLIF and the RLEF are trying to achieve; and his presence in this tournament can only do wonders for the promotion and popularity of it. There is little doubting that Brough is the major draw across all four nations, despite France perhaps being considered favourites due to having a good chunk more Super League experience.
Without being blunt, we need to forget the Four Nations for a moment. If the international game is to truly grow in Rugby League, it needs to develop at the lower end of the scale – which unfortunately, is where the European Championships is lingering at this moment in time. If all top stars had the attitude of Brough, then the state of the game would be in a much better place. Here’s what he told TotalRL.com earlier this week:
“I enjoy playing for Scotland, I get on well with the lads and I have a good crack with Steve McCormack. I’m not having any more time off after I’ve played this any way, I’m going straight back to training.
“It’s something I enjoy doing. I’m not one that likes to sit at home and dwell on things. I get a bit bored, I like to be doing something. My wife is happy for me to do it, we might get away for a week later in the year.”
Some may say that every Rugby League player should have that attitude anyway, and comments like that do not make Brough a martyr. Actually, he should be applauded for his attitude and opinion towards the international game – and his feelings towards just wanting to play as much as possible.
In some ways, there would be a hint of poetic justice should Scotland go on and become European Champions. The one real star of this international series didn’t shirk away when he had the opportunity – he put his hand up to play, and lead a very youthful squad forward. Brough also spoke extensively about how the game is developing in Scotland since the World Cup. This isn’t a man who just pulls a shirt on for the sake of it – he’s a man who genuinely cares about the development of the game in Scotland.
He spoke extensively about being excited about returning to Workington – the scene of one of Scotland RL’s most famous nights last year. He also admitted he was delighted to be playing a game inside the Scottish borders, when the Bravehearts take to the field in Galashiels next weekend.
Brough’s attitude to Rugby League is magically infectious. He cares about the game, and he wants it to develop. Too often, fans can feel disconnected with players in other sports, feeling like they just don’t care about the welfare and development of a game. In Rugby League, we’re blessed with plenty of players who do care – the challenge now is getting more people on Brough’s train of thought, and investing wisely into ALL levels of the international game.
Because let’s face it, if a talent as big as Brough’s sees something good in the international arena, he’s got to be onto something.