Scotland coach Steve McCormack will hand debuts to six players tomorrow when the Bravehearts take on Papua New Guinea in a pre-World Cup friendly at Featherstone Rovers (KO 2pm). Appearing for the first time will be NRL duo of North Queensland centre Kane Linnett and Gold Coast prop Luke Douglas, both of whom are coping with jet-lag having arrived from Australia on Thursday. Other debutants are Gold Coast’s Ayrshire-born full-back Matt Russell, Bradford utility Danny Addy, Widnes prop Ben Kavanagh and Workington youngster Callum Phillips. Catalans Dragons hooker Ian Henderson will make his first appearance since 2008 World Cup in a side captained by Super League Man of Steel Danny Brough.
McCormack has only had three training sessions with his pool of players but has decided to field all but two of his 24-man RLWC2013 squad – the uncapped pair Rhys Lovegrove of Hull KR and Brisbane Broncos half Peter Wallace will not play.
“Kane and Luke only got off the plane on Thursday lunchtime but came straight over to Featherstone to meet the rest of the team at training,” explained McCormack. “We sent over advice in advance on how to acclimatise and cope with the jet-lag, the journey time and the change in weather, so I’m confident they’ll cope. They’ve settled in well straightaway and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone have a run-out.
“We expect PNG to be similar to our first World Cup opponents, Tonga, in that they’ll be very physical but will throw the ball around too. It’s ideal preparation for us and an important part of our build-up.”
Both teams will field more than 17 players, making the game an international, not a Test match. Scotland players will be issued heritage numbers and international appearances but not caps, in line with previous categorisation of games since 1995.
SCOTLAND squad to face PNG: Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls), Josh Barlow (Swinton), Sam Barlow (Halifax), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Brett Carter (Workington Town), Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans), Dale Ferguson (Bradford Bulls), Ben Fisher (London Broncos), Ian Henderson (Catalans Dragons), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers), Andrew Henderson (Sheffield Eagles), Alex Hurst (London Broncos), Ben Kavanagh (Widnes Vikings), Kane Linnett (North Queensland Cowboys), Brett Phillips (Workington Town), Callum Phillips (Workington Town), Matt Russell (Gold Coast Titans), David Scott (Featherstone Rovers), Mitchell Stringer (Sheffield Eagles), Alex Szostak (Sheffield Eagles), Adam Walker (Hull KR), Oliver Wilkes (Wakefield Trinity).