Scotland have named eight uncapped players in their 20-man squad for Friday’s opening European Championship clash with Wales at Workington.
There are five products of the domestic League with Doncaster full-back David Scott joined by uncapped youngsters Louis Senter and Gregor Ramsay, all three learning the game at Glasgow community club Easterhouse Panthers, plus Edinburgh Eagles teenagers Lewis Clarke and Finn Murphy.
They line up alongside last year’s Super League Man of Steel Danny Brough, the Bravehearts’ captain, and other heroes of Scotland’s amazing 2013 World Cup run to the quarter-finals in Danny Addy, Ben Kavanagh, Alex Hurst, Adam Walker and Workington second rower Brett Phillips.
“As expected, we’ve had a wonderful welcome back to Workington for the third year,” said coach McCormack after Scotland’s Tuesday training session at Workington Zebras RFC.
“It’s been good to go back to familiar surroundings in the hotel, the training ground and Derwent Park. We’ve got seven or eight new lads and they’ve fitted in really well so I’m excited about Friday night and really looking forward to it.”
There are potential new caps in Canterbury Bulldogs fullback Nathan Massey and three Super League youngsters in London Broncos half back Oscar Thomas, Wakefield forward Corbyn Kilday and teenager Sonny Esslemont from Hull Kingston Rovers.
Most of the squad is aged between 19 and 25 as Scotland build towards the 2017 World Cup. Prop Sam Barlow was ruled out with injury on Tuesday having helped Leigh Centurions to the Championship title in a gruelling season that only ended 10 days ago.
Scotland have named London Broncos teenage centre Harvey Burnett, a stand-out in Scotland U19s’ Commonwealth Championship side this summer, on stand-by. “There are one or two lads with injuries who we need to monitor over these next two days and Harvey has been fantastic in training so we are keeping him with us as he may be needed,” added McCormack.
New Wales coach John Kear has named 11 potential debutants in his line-up and, if they all get selected, Wales will hit 500 players in their history.
Almost half of the 20 play their rugby in Wales with seven coming from South Wales Scorpions and two from North Wales Crusaders, something that Kear is pleased to see.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I keep banging on about this but it’s the true Welshness in this team that excites me. We’ve got so many homegrown players in the squad and that’s testament to the development work that goes on in this country.”
“This Scotland game will be a real yardstick as to where we are. What I am certain is that this group of players will be totally committed to the shirt and their country.”
There is added incentive for the Dragons that victory in the tournament would see them qualify for the 2017 World Cup.
Owain Griffiths of the Crusaders is one of the potential debutants, as are Jordan Sheridan, Kyle Scrivens, Connor Farrer, Paul Emanuelli, Phil Carleton and Morgan Evans from South Wales Scorpions.
Coventry Bears’ Tom Hughes, Gateshead Thunder’s Ricky Hough, Oxford’s Yannic Parker and Gloucestershire All Golds’ Izaak Duffy are the other players in line to win their first Welsh cap.
Wales have a slight edge over Scotland in previous games having won four out of the seven encounters between the two countries.
SCOTLAND (from): Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls), Josh Barlow (Swinton Lions), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Lewis Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), Sonny Esslemont (Hull KR), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers), Alex Hurst (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Ben Kavanagh (Widnes Vikings), Corbyn Kilday (Wakefield Trinity), Nathan Massey (Canterbury Bulldogs), Finn Murphy (Edinburgh Eagles), Brett Phillips (Workington Town), Callum Phillips (Workington Town), Gregor Ramsay (Easterhouse Panthers), David Scott (Doncaster), Louis Senter (Halifax), Oscar Thomas (London Broncos), Adam Walker (Hull KR), Jonathan Walker (Leigh Centurions), Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
WALES (from): Joe Burke (Barrow Raiders), Daniel Fleming (Castleford Tigers), Rhys Williams (Central Queensland Capras), Tom Hughes (Coventry Bears), Matty Barron, Ricky Hough (Gateshead Thunder), Izaak Duffy (Gloucestershire All Golds), Ollie Olds (Ipswich Jets, Australia), Owain Griffiths, Christiaan Roets (both North Wales Crusaders), Yannic Parker (Oxford), Ashley Bateman, Phil Carleton, Paul Emanuelli, Morgan Evans, Connor Farrer, Kyle Scrivens, Jordan Sheridan (all South Wales Scorpions), Lewis Reece (Toowoomba Clydesdales), Peter Lupton (Workington Town, captain)