Brough and Scotland determined to earn crack at the elite

Huddersfield's Danny Brough
Huddersfield's Danny Brough
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Captain Danny Brough admits earning Scotland a place in the 2016 Four Nations would rank as a “great achievement” for his adopted country.

They will secure that, and a maiden European Championship title, if they beat France, draw with them or lose by 17 points or fewer in Galashiels tonight.

Scotland, who earned rave reviews for their performances in reaching the World Cup quarter-finals last year, are up to 11th in the current world rankings.

France are fourth in those standings but, after a disappointing World Cup and suffering a shock opening European Championships loss against Ireland, remain potentially brittle.

A 42-22 win over Wales in Albi last week pointed at their potential, though, and Richard Agar’s side know they still have a chance of success and, therefore, the opportunity to face Australia, New Zealand and England in two years.

Dewsbury-born Brough, the Huddersfield Giants stand-off, said: “France got a good result last week and they’ll go into this as favourites on paper.

“But we know we can do it and we don’t want to be relying on other results. If we win, we know we’re through and know what we have to do. We’re all looking forward to it now.

“It’s almost the same squad as we had to beat Ireland last week and we’ll have done pretty much just one session before going out there to get this job done.

“It would be a great achievement for our squad to win the European Championship for the first time and something we all want to secure. You don’t get many chances in this sport to win silverware so, hopefully, we’ll do that and we all know then what awaits in 2016.”

Brough, shortlisted for the RLIF International player of the year in 2013 with Sonny Bill Williams and Greg Inglis after also winning the Man of Steel that campaign, will then, intriguingly, get the chance to play against England.

He was, of course, discarded by England coach Steve McNamara last year after just a solitary game against the Exiles and despite being in career-best form.

That saw Brough return to Scotland – his grandfather is Glaswegian – and he was brilliant in the ensuing World Cup.

Brough will be approaching his 34th birthday by the time the 2016 Four Nations arrives but he is sure to feature if fit.

Brough worked with Agar at York City Knights in 2004 after moving from Dewsbury.

“He gave me a chance and we both went on to Hull FC together,” he said, Agar being assistant when Brough helped them win the 2005 Challenge Cup. “He’s a half-back, too, so that’s why he’s a smart coach, and he’ll have them up for this.”

There will be no respite for Brough once tonight’s game is completed; the 31-year-old starts pre-season with Huddersfield on Monday – at an army training camp at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

Wales, meanwhile, have called up Batley prop Byron Smith for Sunday’s game against Ireland.