Scotland targeting further success at this year’s World Cup

League Express’ Doug Thomson speaks to Scotland chairman Keith Hogg about their plans for the World Cup (this first appeared in this Monday’s edition of the paper).

It’s full steam ahead for Scotland for the World Cup.

While League Express understands any issues over player payments and travelling arrangements have been resolved, Scotland Rugby League chief Keith Hogg says planning for the competition has been hard work, but fruitful.

Hogg says World Cup organisers have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their bid to ensure the forthcoming tournament in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea runs smoothly.

And the Scotland chairman has also hailed the amount of preparation work being put in by those involved behind the scenes with the individual nations, many of them volunteers, ahead of the five-week competition, which involves 14 teams and 13 different venues and starts on Friday, October 27.

The Bravehearts, aiming to build on 2013, when they made the quarter-finals before losing to the eventual runners-up New Zealand, are in Group B and play the Kiwis in Christchurch in between clashes with Tonga and Samoa in Cairns.

“The geographical scale of the event is challenging, far more so than most people probably realise,” explained former London Broncos chairman Hogg.

“Teams have the logistics of moving people and equipment between different places and in many cases, different countries, and the red tape involved can be complicated.

“Then we have have the issue of playing in Cairns, with high temperatures and humidity, and of course we have a duty of care to our players.

“It takes a huge amount of planning and preparation, much of it very time-consuming, and credit to the organisers, who have made a huge effort.

“When you consider they are working on the event full-time, it brings home the importance and scale of the work being done by the individual countries, in many cases, on a part-time and voluntary basis.

“They’re not just for the good of those countries, but for Rugby League as a whole.”

Scotland, who are coached by Steve McCormack and will be competing in a fourth World Cup, will take their full quota of 24 players, and members of the back-up team have visited both Cairns and Christchurch.

“We’re happy with the facilities, looking forward to the tournament, and hoping we avoid any injuries between now and the end of the domestic season,” added Hogg.

“The aim is to at least equal what we did in the last World Cup.” Three teams from Scotland’s group will go through to the quarter-finals.