DANNY Brough, the rugby league half-back who switched allegiance from Scotland to England then back again, admits he should probably never have defected from the Bravehearts.
Brough is enjoying one of the most consistent spells of his career with Huddersfield Giants and was yesterday named in 2013 Super League Dream Team – along with four of his team-mates.
With only the play-offs left in Super League, Huddersfield Giants have managed to win an unlikely League Leaders’ Shield as they build towards a Grand Final.
In finishing in first place at the end of the regular season, Huddersfield claimed the Shield for the first time in 81 years and now head into a play-off match with Challenge Cup champions Wigan Warriors.
Much of Huddersfield’s surprising success this season has come from the performances of 30-year-old Brough who is also a leading contender for the league’s Man of Steel.
According to Brough, who has represented Scotland and England, winning the Man of Steel would be his greatest achievement in a league career spanning 15 years. However, at this stage in his life he is only concerned with being appreciated as a member of a team he is comfortable in, which is why he will be representing Scotland in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup this October.
“I don’t do regret, but if I had my time again I would probably never have declared for England and just concentrated on Scotland,” Brough said of his decision, made earlier this season.
The playmaker was captain of the Bravehearts during the 2008 World Cup, qualifying through a Glaswegian grandfather, and led the team to victory over Fiji, but in the aftermath of the tournament the Yorkshireman decided to switch allegiances. In 2012 he received one England cap.
He has felt under-used since then and despite his impressive form in Super League this term he has decided to return to international action with Scotland during the flagship tournament in just over a month.
“I say it how it is and I have made it clear that I only want to play where I am wanted. England have a great set-up and I get on with the lads, but if I am not good enough I would want to be told and I could have taken that and worked on it.
“My experience with England has been frustrating the whole way through and it looked like they were going to stick with their current half-backs so I got in touch with Scotland coach Steve McCormack and told him that if they wanted me, I would play.”
The move means Brough will play for Scotland against Tonga on Tuesday 29 October, rather than taking his chances with hosts England against Australia three days earlier. He may be doing so as the best player in the English leagues, as voted by his peers, but he says he is not expecting his tournament to be any easier.
Coach McCormack has brought in four uncapped Australian NRL stars in Luke Douglas, Peter Wallace, James McManus and Kane Linnett – from the Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights and North Queensland Cowboys respectively – for the World Cup, joining Huddersfield trio Brough, Dale Ferguson and Joe Wardle. With these additions and the likes of Michael Robertson and Ben Fisher coming in from the London Broncos, Brough feels that it will be a disappointing campaign if Scotland do not make the quarter-finals. He rejects claims that some foreign stars play for countries like Scotland just to get exposure in big competitions.
“You could have put it down to that a few years ago. For some players competitions like this represented a free holiday. They have gotten a lot stricter now, though, and have cracked down on players’ passports, looking for proof of a grandparent or parent from a country.
“Scotland have put together a really good squad and the guys will just want to knuckle down.”
Scotland will warm up for their clashes against Tonga and Italy in World Cup Group C by playing Papua New Guinea in Featherstone on 19 October. Before then Brough has a lot of rugby to play.
“If I do win any award I will dedicate it to Huddersfield because they have made me a better player. I would not have seen this coming when I was younger because I was a late developer and I was naive. I have had ups and downs but I have settled and now my aim is to lift more silverware with Huddersfield, be a force in the play-offs and work hard to sustain good form going into the World Cup.”