Scotland Danny Brough admits his side’s priority against Australia in tonight’s Ladbrokes Four Nations opener is to avoid embarrassment.
The Bravehearts, who have never played Australia or England in their 20-year existence, are aiming to make history by becoming the first “fourth” nation to pull off a victory over the big three since the tournament was expanded from the Tri-Nations in 2009.
Brough’s men want to succeed where France, Papua New Guinea, Wales and Samoa have failed but the odds are stacked against them as they prepare to launch the tournament against the 4-7 favourites.
“The aim going into the tournament is to try and nick a game,” said Brough. “That’s what the fourth nation has never done so that’s our main goal.
“But probably not to get embarrassed and let ourselves down because that would be a big disappointment.”
Brough, 33, who will equal Andrew Henderson’s record of 21 Scotland caps when he leads his team out at Hull KR’s Lightstream Stadium, is one of seven Super League players in coach Steve McCormack’s 19-man squad, which also includes four NRL regulars.
McCormack, pictured, who is in charge of the Scotland team for the 13th year, told a news conference at the launch that he has managed to assemble his strongest-ever squad.
“Losing Peter Wallace was a big blow but it is what it is,” Brough said. “We’ve got 24 lads there that’s willing to play and it probably is one of the best squads we’ve ever had.
“We’re massive underdogs, we know that. We’re just looking to go out there with smiles on our faces and try to compete until the 80th minute.
“We had a good camp last week up in Edinburgh and the lads played in a friendly on Friday night.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’re playing the three best teams in the world so there is no hiding place out there now.”
Brough is taking little comfort from Australia coach Mal Meninga’s decision to rest five of his regulars, including Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis.
“It’s nice of them to rest a few but the players they’ve brought in are just as good so it doesn’t get any easier,” he said.
“They’ve got 24 players in their squad and they could have 44 that could get in that team. We’re under no illusions that they’re a quality side and it’s going to be hard work for us.”
One of the busiest men could be full-back Lachlan Coote, one of seven uncapped players in the 19-man squad who qualifies for Scotland through his Glasgow-born grandmother.
“I was meant to play in the last World Cup but because I had just signed to the Cowboys I decided to do a full pre-season there,” said the North Queensland Cowboy, who was in the team that beat Leeds to win the World Club Challenge at the start of the season.
“I was more than happy to come over and represent Scotland.
“It’s going to be a tough hit-out, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve got a fair roster there.
It will be good for the boys to show them what sort of level they’ve got to get to to have any chance in this competition.
“There’s no better challenge than playing against Australia, New Zealand and England.”