Scotland head coach Steve McCormack has recalled the Phillips brothers of Workington Town and Batley full-back into a 19-man squad for their first ever meeting with England at Coventry on Saturday. Hooker Callum Phillips missed the Ladbrokes Four Nations opener with Australia after being ruled out with concussion, having received a blow to the head in the dying minutes of Scotland’s warm up win at Barrow the week before, a game in which he was considered Scotland’s man of the match. The 24-year-old Cumbrian returns to make his fifth international appearance, replacing try-scoring debutant Ryan Brierley as an option in the pivots. Older brother Brett comes into the 19 along with versatile back Scott, who scored two tries in the game at Barrow – both having watched the Australia defeat from the stand at Hull KR. Former Easterhouse Panthers product Scott made his full Bravehearts debut as a teenager in 2011, Phillips Senior a year later – and both have been mainstays of Scotland squads since then. In contrast, veteran prop Mariano, who has just been released by Castleford Tigers, and young Wests Tigers centre Tyler Cassel, are both vying for their debuts having been 18th and 19th men last week. Out of the matchday 19 go Brierley and forwards Sheldon Powe-Hobbs and Billy McConnachie, who both made their debuts off the bench against Australia.
“Callum has been really good in camp,” said coach McCormack. “He has been one of the stand-out players for me so far and has really been in the mix with the NRL and Super League players. He didn’t play last week due to a head injury but he will get his chance this time around and we have a fully fit squad so we might make a few changes.
“He has taken everything in his stride. He is a lad who I know really well anyway, he has never let us down when he has played plus he is a tough player. Playing in a Scotland v England game in the Four Nations will not faze him one bit.”
McCormack was keen to stress the competitiveness in the Scotland camp, the squad taking part in a team-building afternoon on Wednesday at Preston, including snooker and pool tournaments, along with having their escapology skills tested in a Timed Trap centre.
“Ryan Brierley scored a great try against Australia and he will get even better every time he plays,” said the 43-year-old, who is also Coach Education and Development Manager at Wigan Warriors. “He showed bits last week of what he could do and I think he is a great player for the future.”
Who will partner captain Danny Brough will be revealed on Saturday, with Danny Addy (second row) or Lachlan Coote (full-back) the likely candidates to change positions. Vastly-experienced Huddersfield Giants star Brough, who grabbed an assist as well as two conversions in the defeat in Hull last week, was praised by the Bravehearts coach for his leadership qualities.
“Broughie is Broughie,” said McCormack. “He is buzzing around camp and everyone knows what he is like! I thought he showed some really good touches on Friday night that he is up for a big tournament. His kicking game is superb but we need to make sure we hold the ball more.
“Playing for England might have been an ambition of his a couple of years ago but he is totally committed to us. He might add a little spice on Saturday and will be ready for it more than anyone. His thoughts are all on Scotland, he is not bothered about England in the slightest. It is important that Broughie leads us well because he is a world-class talent.
“The Scotland squad this year is very young so it is massive to have players like Danny Brough involved. Broughie, Lachlan Coote and Luke Douglas have led the team really well so far so the senior players are really important and a big part of our side.”
Scotland squad v England:
Alphabetical players with age/caps: Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls, 25/12), Euan Aitkin (St George Illawarra Dragons, 21/1), Sam Brooks (Widnes Vikings, 23/2), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants, 33/21), Tyler Cassel (Wests Tigers, 21/0), Lachlan Coote (North Queensland Cowboys, 26/1), Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans, 30/6), Dale Ferguson (Bradford Bulls, 28/12), Ben Hellewell (London Broncos, 24/13), Liam Hood (Leigh Centurions, 24/5), Ben Kavanagh (Bradford Bulls, 28/12), Kane Linnett (North Queensland Cowboys, 27/5), Frankie Mariano (Castleford Tigers, 29/0), Brett Phillips (Workington Town, 28/8), Callum Phillips (Workington Town, 24/4), Matthew Russell (Warrington Wolves, 23/6), Dave Scott (Batley Bulldogs, 23/13), Lewis Tierney (Wigan Warriors, 22/1), Adam Walker (Hull KR, 25/12).