Matty Russell has put his hand up to play for Scotland’s rugby league side in the 2016 Four Nations Series, and says people will be shocked by the calibre of player being lined up by coach Steve McCormack.
The Warrington winger or full-back has not played for the Bravehearts since making his debut at the 2013 World Cup after being hit by injury at the end of each of the last two seasons, but is desperate to represent his country on their Four Nations bow against the world’s big three nations.
Scotland are expected to face England as part of a double-header at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena in the autumn and will also take on the might of Australia and defending champions New Zealand after winning the 2014 European Championship to earn their place at the international top table.
McCormack’s team of mostly part-time players finished the 2015 European Championship with the wooden spoon but the long-serving coach is expected to bolster his squad with more talent from Australia’s NRL as well as Super League.
“I’ve spoken to Steve a few times,” said Russell. “I’m definitely keen to play for Scotland. I loved my time at the World Cup.
“I missed the 2014 games with ankle injuries and last year with my [badly smashed] teeth but I loved spending my time with the lads at Scotland and I’d love to play in the Four Nations.
“Steve has said, injury-free, he’s keen for me to be on board with that.
“Without giving too much away, I’ve had a few phone calls and I’ve heard a few names and I’m a bit shocked myself at a few that could come in.”
North Queensland centre Kane Linnett, Gold Coast prop Luke Douglas and Penrith scrum-half Peter Wallace helped the Bravehearts set up a quarter-final clash with New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup, while Leeds’ former Wests Tigers prop Keith Galloway has confirmed his availability for this year and North Queensland full-back Lachlan Coote has also been linked with a call-up.
McCormack is expected to keep faith with the majority of his 2015 squad, which was led once more by former Man of Steel Danny Brough and included new Widnes recruit Sam Brooks, while adding a sprinkling of NRL stardust, especially with an eye on the 2017 World Cup for which the Scots have already qualified.