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27 Oct 2017 by TSZ

2017 Rugby League World Cup - Scotland vs Tonga Preview

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The Lowdown

SCOTLAND

  • Scotland head into the World Cup full of optimism after their valiant showing in last year's Four Nations, culminating with a brilliant draw against New Zealand.
  • Head Coach Steve McCormack again takes charge of the Scots with talisman Danny Brough hoping to lead from the front as captain. The Huddersfield Giants man has played a key role in Scotland's improved performances in recent years.
  • Brough must do without potential halfback partner Ryan Brierley after the Toronto Wolfpack player pulled out of the tournament with a lingering hand injury.

Head Coach: Steve McCormack

Team: Tierney; Russell, Hellewell, Stein, Oakes; Brough, Addy; Douglas, K. Bentley, Kavanagh, Mariano, Ferguson, Bell

Bench: Phillips, A. Bentley, Brooks, Walker

TONGA

  • Tonga have named their strongest ever squad with plenty of big names declaring themselves available for the competition. The likes of Michael Jennings, Daniel Tupou and Andrew Fifita have all put themselves forward for selection with many fancying Tonga to be the tournament's dark horses.
  • Perhaps the biggest name in the squad is North Queensland Cowboys' Jason Taumalolo with him defecting from New Zealand to appear for Tonga. Alongside Fifita, captain Sika Manu and Manu Ma'u, the Tongans boast one of the biggest packs in the competition.
  • A strong start is important for Tonga and those named in the 17 will need to put in a solid performance or their place for the next fixture could be in jeopardy with some impressive talent waiting in the wings.

Head Coach: Kristian Woolf

Team: Hopoate; Tupou, Jennings, Hurrell, Vatuvei; Lolohea, Hingano; Fifita, Havili, Taukeiaho, Ma'u, Manu, Taumalolo

Bench: Katoa, Moa, Terepo, Murdoch-Masila

Analysis - what to expect
A lot of focus during the build-up to this competition has been on Tonga due to the strength of their squad and they are now viewed as a team who will be looking to make the final. That could crank the pressure up on the side and it remains to be seen how they will cope with Scotland hoping to test them out in this opening fixture. The Tongan side possess real power across the park with speed too and they could lay down a marker that they mean business.

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