Rugby league: Centurions on opposing sides

Leigh's Bob Beswick
Leigh's Bob Beswick

Leigh forwards Bob Beswick and Jonny Walker will put friendships aside as they represent their national sides Ireland and Scotland on Friday.

Two Gala players are set to make their Scotland debuts in front of their home fans at Galashiels in the second round of the European Championship.

Winger Craig Robertson and half-back Lewis Clarke are both in Steve McCormack’s 19-man for the clash with Ireland as the Bravehearts look to bounce back from their opening defeat by Wales.

Both Clarke, an apprentice lineman for Scottish Power in Galashiels, and Robertson play league for Edinburgh Eagles and union for Gala RFC.

There is a third uncapped player in Clarke’s Scotland Under-19 team-mate Shane Toal and, with backs Richard Harris (Warrington), Alex Walker (London Broncos) and Glaswegian Scott Plumridge - all of whom are 20 or younger - making their debuts a week ago, McCormack is relying on youth in a game the defending champions have to win to keep their title defence alive.

“We are going to have a really inexperienced backline on Friday night but that is the way lads get an opportunity,” McCormack said.

“Last week David Scott was our best player and he’s a perfect example for these kids to look to - about five years ago he came in from our U19s and got a game, took his chance and has been with us ever since and made a career in the sport.

“Lads like Alex Walker and Scott Plumridge could be part of the Scotland team for the next 10 years.”

Ireland, who also made a losing start against France, make one change, with Sean Hesketh replacing the injured Haydn Peacock.

Ireland coach Mark Aston said: “We’re still in this competition and all we can do now is win our games and hope that other results go for us. The Scots were the only team to beat us in last year’s competition and we’ll be keen to put that right tomorrow night.”

Scotland (from): D Addy (Bradford), D Brough (Huddersfield, capt), H Burnett (unattached), L Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), S Esslemont (Hull KR), D Ferguson (Bradford), R Harris (Warrington), B Hellewell (London Broncos), L Hood (Salford), B Kavanagh (Widnes), C Kilday (Central Queensland), J McLean (Gloucestershire All Golds), S Plumridge (Edinburgh Eagles), C Robertson (Edinburgh Eagles), D Scott (Doncaster), S Toal (Barrow), O Thomas (London Broncos), A Walker (London Broncos), J Walker (Leigh).

Ireland (from): G Gill (Ballynahinch), E Cosgrove, S Hesketh (both Batley), J Mendeika, O Roberts (both Bradford), L Finn (Castleford, capt), C Mulkeen, G O’Keeffe (both Gloucester All Golds), L Ambler, B Johnston (both Halifax, S Grix (Huddersfield), B Beswick (Leigh), J Keyes (London Broncos), C Dunne (Longhorns), W Hope (Oldham), B Hargreaves, D Bridge, M Hadden (all Rochdale).