Scotland have made two changes to their squad for Friday night’s huge clash with France at Netherdale (7.30pm kick-off).
Leigh Centurions prop Jonathan Walker returns from his one-match suspension to take the place of Joe McClean, who stood in for him and made his debut against Ireland last Saturday, while Harvey Burnett replaces the injured Brett Phillips. London Broncos centre Burnett is uncapped and will be joined in a 22-man pool by club-mate and fellow teenager Alex Walker and McClean, who are on stand-by in case of injuries in training.
Born and raised in Surrey, the son of a Glasgow-born policeman, Burnett impressed on his Scotland Under-19s debut at the Commonwealth Championships this summer in North Lanarkshire and has been in training camp for both games this month.
Having beaten Wales and Ireland, Scotland will win the European Championship for the first time if they beat or draw with France. A defeat would see the title be decided on points difference, with Ireland entering the fray. Centre Joe Wardle is thinking positively about the challenge ahead.“We can do it, definitely,” said the Huddersfield Giants star. “I think France will be similar to the Ireland game rather than the Wales one. They’re quite a niggley side so we’ll have to get stuck in and keep with them, try to break them down and get on top eventually. If we play like we did in Ireland in the second half, be patient, we are with a chance.
“We made it really hard work for ourselves in the first half against Ireland with knock-ons and so many penalties for offside, but credit to the boys, we dug deep and our ‘D’ was really good. I always thought we’d get the breakthrough and we believe in our defence. In international games you’ve got to keep to your structure, keep playing, and turn them over in the corner.”
Wardle returned to the Bravehearts pool this autumn for the first time since 2010, having missed two campaigns through injury – including last year’s World Cup glory - and being with England Knights. He is having no regrets about returning to Scotland’s ranks and moving close to his first meeting with Australia and New Zealand.
“Winning the European Championship would be outstanding, an amazing achievement for Scotland and give us the chance to play against England, Australia and New Zealand (in the 2016 Four Nations). We can do the country proud. Everyone will love it.
“It’s outstanding being back playing for Scotland again. I love it – we have such a good laugh and we’ve got a great team. Winning the Europeans would almost make up for missing the World Cup last year!”
Scotland Under-19s are also back in action on Saturday morning when they play England Lionhearts at Peffermill Playing Fields, University of Edinburgh. Please note kick off is 11am and entry is free. Gateshead Thunder prop Sam Luckley, from Dunfermline, is added to the squad that beat Ireland 42-10 in Dublin on Saturday.
SCOTLAND v FRANCE at Netherdale, Galashiels Friday 31 October 7.30pm ko - tickets £10/£5 from scotlandrl.com and on the gate.
SCOTLAND SQUAD (to be reduced to 17): Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls), Josh Barlow (Swinton Lions), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Harvey Burnett (London Broncos), Lewis Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), Sonny Esslemont (Hull KR), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers), Alex Hurst (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Ben Kavanagh (Widnes Vikings), Corbyn Kilday (Wakefield Trinity), Nathan Massey (Canterbury Bulldogs), Finn Murphy (Edinburgh Eagles), Callum Phillips (Workington Town), Gregor Ramsay (Easterhouse Panthers), David Scott (Doncaster), Louis Senter (Halifax), Oscar Thomas (London Broncos), Adam Walker (Hull KR), Jonathan Walker (Leigh), Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants). Stand-by: Joe McLean (Uni of Gloucs All Golds), Alex Walker (London Broncos).
Scotland Under-19s play England Lionhearts at Peffermill, University of Edinburgh, Saturday 1 November, 11am kick off.
Team: Damien Gennochio, Angus Grindlay, Cameron Robertson, Carwyn Walker (Aberdeen Warriors); Shane Toal (Barrow Raiders); Joe Kirkup (East Cumbria Crusaders), Iain Allen, Kieran Wyber, Fraser McTaggart, (Easterhouse Panthers); Lewis Clarke, Finn Murphy (Edinburgh Eagles); Sam Luckley (Gateshead Thunder); Jack Stewart (Hull KR); Richard Harris (Medway Dragons); Finlay Hutchison (Newcastle University); Oliver Murray (Thatto Heath); Alex Jobson (Waterhead).