FEATHERSTONE Rovers forward Sam Brooks is set to make his World Cup debut with Scotland this Sunday and he cannot wait to get going.
Brooks has been selected on the bench for the Scots’ opening game against Tonga on Sunday and is part of a team that also includes Rovers team-mate Frankie Mariano as well as former Featherstone centre Ben Hellewell and Pontefract-born half-back Danny Addy and back rower Dale Ferguson.
Scotland will be skippered by Huddersfield’s former Castleford half-back Danny Brough and are expected to be competitive in the competition after their encouraging displays in last year’s Four Nations when they drew with New Zealand.
They will have to improve substantially on their warm-up game against a New South Wales Country under 23s side when a team including Brooks and Mariano lost 50-14, but it is a much stronger Bravehearts line-up for the Tonga game, which kicks off at 6.15am British time on Sunday.
Brooks, who recently earned a new contract with Featherstone, will earn his fourth international cap and he is relishing the prospect of playing down under.
He said: “It was a very long and tiring trip over to Australia but the mood in camp is fantastic and we are all looking forward to getting going.
“The atmosphere over here is great. We are all anticipating a tough and exciting tournament.
“It is going to be a really tough start for us going up against Tonga as they are a massive team with a great deal of quality.
“But we are confident we can come into the tournament, perform and make it out of the group stages.
“It will be a fantastic experience taking on some of the world’s best teams on the biggest stage.”
Scotland are in Group B of the 14-team tournament, which ahead of the event has been dubbed ‘The Group of Death’.
After facing a Tonga side tipped in many circles to progress to the semi-finals the Bravehearts then go up against New Zealand on Saturday, November 4 (4am British time).
Their final group game is against a Samoa side that may include Castleford Tigers half-back Ben Roberts on Saturday, November 11 (8am).
Scotland’s chances have been hit by several absentees, including new Castleford signing Joe Wardle, who has stayed in the UK for family reasons, and NRL Grand Finalists Lachlan Coote and Kane Linnett, who have picked up injuries.
Head coach Steve McCormack said: We’re under no illusions how tough it’s going to be, but I also know it’s going to be fantastic.
“It is a young squad but that’s exciting too. When we took our youngest ever team to play in France two years ago, I said some of them would be on the plane to Australia.
“We’ve got a big group of players who I know well and trust. They have always been there for Scotland and given it their all. I know they will do that again and their experience is going to be vital to help the young lads.”