Discarded by England in the prime of his career, Danny Brough will get the chance to play against them if he can lead Scotland to victory over France in their final match of the 2014 European Championship in Galashiels tonight.
Steve McCormack’s Bravehearts followed up their impressive performances in the 2013 World Cup by claiming convincing wins over Wales and Ireland to put themselves within touching distance of a first title in their 20-year history.
After racking up the points against the Welsh and the Irish, Scotland will claim the trophy even if they lose by fewer than 18 points to Richard Agar’s France but they will be out to mark their 20th anniversary as well as McCormack’s ten years at the helm in fitting style.
A French win by 18 points would open the door slightly for Ireland, who pulled off a first win over France in Dublin a fortnight ago but would need to beat Wales by a huge margin in the last match of the tournament in Wrexham on Sunday afternoon to pip France to the crown. Of course, the big prize at stake is a place alongside England, Australia and New Zealand in the next Four Nations series to be held in the northern hemisphere in 2016.
France (2009) and Wales (2011) have qualified in the past but it would be a first for either Scotland or Ireland.
Brough, the 2013 Man of Steel who was cast aside by England coach Steve McNamara after making a one-off appearance against the Exiles in 2012, will be approaching his 34th birthday when that tournament comes around but the Huddersfield skipper has been far and away the best player in the European Championship so far and is the obvious danger highlighted by France assistant coach Olivier Janzac.
“Our defensive structure was better against Wales,” Janzac said. “But we need more vision on attack and to find a way to combat Danny Brough’s exceptional kicking game – he is a true leader.”
France have 13 past or present players from Catalans Dragons in their unchanged squad, while McCormack recalls former Castleford and Hull KR prop Jonathan Walker from his one-match suspension to line up alongside his twin brother Adam.
McCormack also brings into his 20-man squad uncapped London Broncos centre Harvey Burnett to replace the injured Brett Phillips.
Wales, meanwhile, have called up Batley prop Byron Smith, who missed the first two games due to work commitments, for Sunday’s game against Ireland at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium.
Scotland (from): P D Addy (Bradford), J Barlow (Swinton), D Brough (Huddersfield, capt), H Burnett (London Broncos), L Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), S Esslemont (Hull KR), B Hellewell (Featherstone), A Hurst (Tweed Heads Seagulls), B Kavanagh (Widnes), C Kilday (Wakefield), N Massey (Canterbury Bulldogs), F Murphy (Edinburgh Eagles), C Phillips (Workington), G Ramsay (Easterhouse Panthers), D Scott (Doncaster), L Senter (Halifax), O Thomas (London Broncos), A Walker (Hull KR), J Walker (Leigh), J Wardle (Huddersfield).
France: C Soubeyras (Carcassone), J Baitieri (capt), J Bousquet, D Cardace, B Garcia, A Maria, E Pelissier (all Catalans Dragons), K Larroyer (Hull KR), J Boudebza, J Fakir (both Lezignan), R Marginet, F Vaccari (Palau), T Fages (Salford), J-P Baile, M Pala, M Simon (S -Esteve XIII Catalan), T Gigot, B Jullien (Avignon), A Wood (Toulouse), A Decarnin (Villeneuve).
Referee: S Silverwood