14 Oct 2014

It has been 11 months since Scotland last played and David Scott will never forget the night he faced up to the reigning champions, New Zealand, in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final at Headingley. But now he is hoping Scotland can add another chapter to their history by qualifying for the 2016 Four Nations tournament and a re-match with the Kiwis, as well as first ever clashes with Australia and England.

“It was really good to meet up yesterday for training for the first time since the World Cup,” said the Doncaster winger, who originates from Stirling. “We’re just picking up where we left off last year. We’ve got 12 or 13 of the World Cup squad back together - that’s the core of the group - and we’ve added to that with some younger players which should stand us in good stead.”

Scotland face Wales on Friday night at Workington in the opening game of the European Championship knowing that they must win if they are likely to lift the European crown for the first time in their 20 year history. Wales will be fired up with the news today that if either they or Ireland win the Euros, they will qualify directly for the 2017 World Cup, playing in the Four Nations in 2016 rather than in World Cup qualifiers.

“It’s a big incentive for them – it’s massive really,” admits Scott, who became a Championship regular this season after spending a year at both Featherstone Rovers and Hull Kingston Rovers. “They have a strong squad so we know it’s going to be a tough contest and we’ll have to be on top of our game. They’re going to come out all guns blazing and we’ll need to match that intensity.

“But I think the pressure is off us really. Whatever happens we’re still in the World Cup while they’ve got much more to lose. The best thing that can happen for us is that we finish top and get to play the big three in 2016. Wales can get that and avoid the World Cup qualifiers so the pressure is on them.”

Scott, 21, made his debut for Scotland as a teenager in a makeshift side in 2011, when coach Steve McCormack brought a clutch of youngsters into his decimated squad, handing debuts to 11 players in two games. Of those, Alex Hurst, Ben Hellewell, Josh Barlow and Scott were in the World Cup squad last year and retain their place this autumn. Scott is hoping the new faces in this player pool have the same impact and be part of the Scotland Class of 2017 when they head to Australia and New Zealand for the next World Cup.

“It’s really exciting seeing the new players come in – hopefully we’ll see the team of the future on Friday night. The first thing Steve said to us yesterday at training was, ‘This is the first step to prepare for the 2017 World Cup’. I’d like to think we can build on 2013 and move forward and achieve the same goals at least. A lot of us younger players have been playing first team rugby in Super League or the Championship for the last year or two now so we’ve been playing with a much greater physicality and at a higher speed than reserve or academy rugby. We’re playing every week at the standard that we need to be to compete in internationals.”

The stand-out name in the Bravehearts squad remains captain Danny Brough, the talisman, record points-scorer and leader. At 31, the Huddersfield Giants superstar is five years older than the next most experienced players in the squad, Widnes Vikings forward Ben Kavanagh and Leigh Centurions’ Sam Barlow. Scott appreciates what Brough, who has 15 caps, brings to the team environment.

“Danny brings a wealth of experience – he’s won the Challenge Cup, he’s been Man of Steel – he brings a lot of class and is a key figure for us, without a doubt. He’s important for the other members of the team to learn from. We’ve got other quality players but it’s great for the younger squad to have Danny there to help see us through.”

Tickets for Friday night’s opening European Championship game are on sale at priced £10 adults and £5 concessions.