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Scots have high hopes for next World Cup

Scotland have been rewarded for their performance at last year's Rugby League World Cup with automatic qualification for the next one in Australia/New Zealand in 2017.

Led by Danny Brough, last season's Super League 'Man of Steel', the Scots were unbeaten in their pool matches against Tonga, Italy and the USA before losing in a highly creditable performance against the then defending champions, New Zealand, in the quarter-finals of the tournament, held in England.

With the competition having something of a chequered history, last year's tournament was considered the best in the sport's history and there is widespread determination to build on that in three years' time.

Ollie Cruickshank, Scotland team manager, welcomed confirmation of their involvement, saying: "This is great news for Scotland Rugby League and rewards the players and staff for their efforts in 2013."

What made the Scottish contribution to the last World Cup all the more remarkable was that they had so little opportunity to ready themselves. Steve McCormack, their head coach, had to bring together his squad in less than a fortnight ahead of the event.

This time there is the chance to plan properly and, for all that they are currently working with extremely limited resources, Cruickshank is determined to capitalise on qualification, and the establishment of an improved, coordinated programme of international matches.

"We now have a confirmed schedule for the next four years with the European Championships in October with the winner qualifying for the Four Nations (with Australia, England and New Zealand) in 2016," said the manager. "Next year will be a development year, with our domestic and younger players given a chance to stake a claim in 2016 and 2017, and 2016 will hopefully be the Four Nations (or the European Championships), with 2017 being the World Cup.

"Our thoughts now are on winning the European Championships and qualifying for the Four Nations, then we will be able to plan our RLWC campaign. I will be working closely with Steve and we'll leave no stone unturned to give ourselves the best possible preparation."

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