Liam Hood has admitted that he is relishing the ‘neighbourly rivalry’ between Scotland and England ahead of Saturday’s clash.
The Leigh Centurions star played a key role in Scotland’s defeat to Australia last week and was most remembered for putting a huge hit on Kangaroos full-back Matt Moylan. Hood believes the rivalry adds spice to the occasion and he is also looking forward to coming up against some of his closest mates.
“It is a massive game for me individually and for us as a team,” Hood said. “It is the biggest game in this Four Nations to us as it is a rivalry between the neighbours and Australia and New Zealand have that same rivalry too. I have played with a few of the England boys and I will be playing against a couple of friends so I just cannot wait to get out onto the field and give it a good go. I spoke to John Bateman the other day about our games last week and said it would be nice to get a game against him. I played against him when he played for Wigan and I played for Salford and he managed to get a good shot on me, so I will be trying to repay that back!”
Yorkshire-born Hood came through the academy at Leeds Rhinos, making his Super League debut while a teenager, before moves to Hunslet, Salford and Swinton. He won his first Scotland cap back in 2012, courtesy of his mother being from Greenock, but only established himself in the squad last year.
“I love coming to play for Scotland at the end of the year,” he reveals. “It is a great camp, there is always a top bunch of lads and I always have a good time.”
The 24-year-old says the team are aiming to be physical and hard-hitting against Wayne Bennett’s side this weekend.
“You have to go out with the physical approach against all three teams who we will play in the Four Nations. Australia had some big bodies in their team last weekend and England and New Zealand are the exact same – if not bigger. I think the way we need to be heading is to be aggressive and not letting them do what they want to do.
“We also need to be alert because the game against Australia was by far the quickest game I have ever played in. You realise in the Four Nations that you need to nail every detail and every one per-center because they are the difference at the end of the day.”
The Bravehearts are not short of confidence or coolness when it comes to the Four Nations, according to Hood, despite shipping over 50 points against the Kangaroos, nearly all of which came in bursts at the start and end of the game.
“We are miles more confident coming into the game this week because we have touched up a few things in training and all the lads are buzzing and want a spot in the 17-man team,” he added. “It would be nice for the first ‘invited’ team to win a game in this tournament so that is our main goal at the moment but right now we are just taking each week as it comes and whatever the scoreline is just depends on us and how we play.”
Hood claims he is honoured to play against world superstars in the autumn tournament and thinks it can only better his abilities.
“Cameron Smith is probably the best nine in the world so it is always great to come up against people like him and have a dig against them. I tried to get his shirt after the game but Broughie had already asked him at Anfield (at the tournament launch)! It is the same with New Zealand because Issac Luke is a fantastic hooker plus England have Josh Hodgson and Daryl Clark, so I am looking forward to whoever I come up against.”
Photo credit: SWpix.com