Scotland will prepare for their World Cup campaign in October down the road from the hometown of prop Luke Douglas – who is from the most Scottish town down under! The St Helens star hails from Yamba in New South Wales, and he will be back on home turf when Scotland set up camp in nearby Ballina.
“The camp is only going to be about an hour from my home town,” explained Douglas, who has made eight appearances for Scotland since his debut in 2013.
Yamba is known for being the most Scottish town in Australia. We have a Highland Gathering every year with the caber toss and all the other Scottish games.
Every telegraph pole is painted in a different tartan! The Douglas tartan is on a pole down by one of the three pubs.
“Yamba is a beautiful little sport with a surf school. I help out there with the Disabled Surf club, helping the kids, when I am back home. It’s really close to Lennoxhead and Byron Bay so we will have a great time there.”
Scotland fly to Australia on 16 October and head to Ballina, where they will play a New South Wales Country XIII on Friday 20 October. They then fly north to Cairns in Northern Queensland, where they will spend the week preparing for their Pool B opener against Tonga.
Many of the stars of Scotland’s Four Nations campaign last year have had an indifferent Super League season so far. Most of the squad are in teams facing a fight to avoid being in bottom four Qualifiers at the end of the season. Skipper Danny Brough and forward Dale Ferguson have helped lift Huddersfield off the bottom and into a battle with Matty Russell’s Warrington and injury-riddled Wigan, where Lewis Tierney has been busy at both ends of the pitch. Meanwhile, Douglas’s prop partner Adam Walker has left Saints for Wakefield and then suffered a long-term knee injury.
But Douglas thinks it is too early for coach Steve McCormack or the Scottish fans to be overly concerned. With hooker Liam Hood playing regularly and scoring tries for Super League newcomers Leigh Centurions, uncapped veteran Keith Galloway fit and firing for Leeds Rhinos, and a handful of Scotland internationals leading the promotion chases of Hull KR and London Broncos at the top of the Championship, Douglas believes Scotland will be ready for the World Cup.
“I’m not worried about form or injuries at this stage. In the Four Nations Adam Walker went 40 minutes without a break and absolutely killed it. If he gets over his injury he can do that again. I know Steve will choose a good squad and the belief is still there that we can really challenge again. On paper we will have a quality outfit but we are up against top opposition.”
Douglas, who made a record-breaking number of appearances for Cronulla Sharks and Gold Coast Titans in the NRL, has helped St Helens steady the ship after a rocky start to his Super League career that saw coach Kieron Cunningham sacked by Saints. His replacement Justin Holbrook has helped Saints back into the top 8 a month before the league splits.
“It’s going well for me despite us not getting many wins,” says Douglas, whose family hail from the Parkhead area of Glasgow. “I’ve not really looked at the league ladder but we’ve not produced the goods consistently enough. We’ve got to make every game count now.”