Bravehearts will need to be brave and then some to stand chance in horror group

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Scotland have had an, ahem, interesting history at the Rugby League World Cup. In 2017, they were absolutely thrashed by New Zealand and Tonga, but grabbed an unexpected draw with Samoa.

They also had three players sent home for being too drunk to get on a plane, which, I guess, is what happens when you pick a guy called Johnny Walker. Less impressive that one of the other culprits was Danny Brough, by far their best player.

In 2016, they drew with New Zealand in what is their best result ever, and in 2013, they made it out of the group unbeaten. In 2008 they were unremarkable, except for a stunning punch up between Jason Bukuya and Ian Henderson, and in 2000, they lost every game.

Those days are passed now, and in the past they must remain. This Scotland side are not anywhere near on the level of a squad that included Brough, then the reigning Super League Man of Steel, plus Peter Wallace and a solid core of talent.

Now, Scotland Rugby League is something of a husk. Let’s be real here: they shouldn’t be in this World Cup, because they don’t really qualify for IRL membership given the low level of local participation.

Countries like Serbia – who Scotland beat in the qualifiers – would have a justifiable claim that the five park footy-level sides that currently constitute the domestic competition should result in their membership being downgraded.

As things stand, this will be an entirely heritage-based side with little pathways – unlike Greece, Lebanon, Ireland, Jamaica and Italy.

That heritage, however, is pretty decent. Campbell Graham is probably their most recognisable talent and (at least when I asked him) was super enthusiastic about playing.

Coach Nathan Graham has them out last year to face Jamaica without NRL talent, though they are in a group with Australia and Fiji, they will fancy their chances against Italy in their opener.


Right, headline names. Alongside Graham, there will likely be Euan Aitken, and just because they love centres, Josh Griffin from Hull FC too. Aaron Schoupp is, apparently, also on the list, as is Joe Wardle of Hudderfield, making it five potential centres in their 17.

It’s funny because Scotland’s football team have only left backs, so it’s nice that Scotland RL have exclusively centres.

Stalwart Lachlan Coote is out at fullback, but his Hull KR teammate Kane Linnett will play in the backrow. Saints loose forward James Bell, once a Warrior, is also a walk-up.

Josh Griffin’s brother, George Griffin, will start at prop alongside Salford’s Sam Luckley. Also from the Red Devils comes halfback Ryan Brierley.

Wakefield’s Liam Hood is a certainty at hooker, Ellis Longstaff should be somewhere and Matty Russell will play on a wing.

On the other, Lachlan Walmsley, a former Scone Thoroughbred, is currently racking up tries at better than one per game for Halifax and comes with the added bonus of being ginger and having a lot of freckles, so they don’t even need to check eligibility. He’s in.

Lachlan Coote NRL Rugby League North Queensland Cowboys Finals 2017

Lachlan Coote of the Cowboys celebrates teammates. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)


Based on the Jamaica game last year, there will be a lot of lower league talent from the UK. Jack Teanby, Ben Kavanagh, Ben Hellewell and Dale Ferguson all should be there.

Davey Dixon, Will Oakes and Alex Walker – brother of the banned Johnny and previously himself banned for recreational drugs – will fill out the backline depth.

The Aussie lower grade contingent remains to be seen. Bailey Hayward captained the Bulldogs Flegg side is an option and with a serious lack of five eighths, could play.

From the Q Cup, there is Taine Tuaupiki, a fullback from Burleigh Bears, Kyle Schneider, a hooker with the Mackay Cutters and backrower Keenan Yorston from the Ipswich Jets.


The Crichton brothers are both eligible, but with Stephen likely to go for Samoa, Christian Crichton is certainly a possibility for Scotland. Kevin Proctor is also a possibility, if he is even a rugby league player anymore.

Daryl Clark, a long-time Super League stalwart and former England hooker, is eligible but has turned the Scots down.

Predicted Squad

1 Matty Russell
2 Christian Crichton
3 Campbell Graham
4 Josh Griffin
5 Lachlan Walmsley
6 Bailey Hayward
7 Ryan Brierley
8 George Griffin
9 Liam Hood
10 Sam Luckley
11 Kane Linnett
12 Euan Aitken
13 James Bell
14 Kyle Schneider
15 Dale Ferguson
16 Joe Wardle
17 Taine Tuaupiki
18 Ellis Longstaff
19 Alex Walker
20 Will Oakes
21 Ben Kavanagh
22 Jack Teanby
23 Ben Hellewell
24 Davey Dixon

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