Cup stars in Bravehearts mix
Scotland have named seven uncapped players in their 19-man squad to face Australia for the first time in the opening game of the Four Nations tournament in Hull this weekend.
Coach Steve McCormack has named Intrust Super Cup forwards Billy McConnachie (Ipswich Jets) and Sheldon Powe-Hobbs (Northern Pride) in the mix with to make their debuts for the Bravehearts in a squad that includes Super League grand final winner Lewis Tierney of Wigan, World Club Challenge-winner Lachlan Coote (North Queensland Cowboys), St George Illawarra centre Euan Aitken and Huddersfield halfback Ryan Brierley.
It will be the first time NRL stars Aitken or Coote have played in a Scotland jersey, having both missed the warm-up win in Barrow last Friday night.
Another Australian-born player missing that night, but returning to face the Kangaroos is St Helens’ new signing Luke Douglas, who admits he is playing catch up after joining up with the Scotland squad almost a week after his team-mates.
The prop left the Gold Coast Titans to join Saints on a three-year deal in 2017, and was given additional time off following the birth of his son Archibald five weeks ago.
Having rushed from Glasgow airport to Cumbria to see the Bravehearts win at Barrow, Douglas has spent the past few days getting up to speed with training and getting to know a number of new faces as well as renewing old acquaintances.
Looking ahead to the game against Australia in Hull, Douglas is under no illusions that he and his team-mates are facing a daunting challenge, although he will be hoping to pass a few bits of knowledge about the opposition to coach McCormack.
“It's going to be a tough one at the weekend,” Douglas said.
“To a certain extent we can control a bit of the speed of the game, by doing things to slow them down and play them at our speed. But you are bound to be nervous about when we lose the ball how hard it is going to be, and how long it’s going to be gone.
“I, and the other NRL players who have played against them, can give feedback to Steve on their strengths and weaknesses, as we are playing against these players each week, and hopefully our experience in the NRL can match some of their talent.
“It's a great opportunity as Australia, in fact all three teams we are playing, are the best in the world and it will be tough, but hopefully we can be really competitive on Friday night.”
Scotland face Australia at 5am on Saturday morning (Queensland time). Tune into GEM to watch the game.
Scotland Bravehearts squad
Danny Addy (Bradford), Euan Aitken (St George Illawarra), Ryan Brierley (Huddersfield), Sam Brooks (Widnes), Danny Brough (c) (Huddersfield), Lachlan Coote (North Queensland Cowboys), Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans), Dale Ferguson (Bradford), Ben Hellewell (London Broncos), Liam Hood (Leigh), Ben Kavanagh (Bradford), Kane Linnett (North Queensland Cowboys), Frankie Mariano (Castleford), Billy McConnachie (Ipswich Jets), Callum Phillips (Workington), Sheldon Powe-Hobbs (Northern Pride), Matty Russell (Warrington), Lewis Tierney (Wigan), Adam Walker (Hull KR).