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Coaches enter revolving door as opportunity knocks

Hosts Scotland have been forced into a second change of head coach, immediately ahead of the Commonwealth Under-19 Nines competition which starts in Cumbernauld today.

However, the Scotland Rugby League hierarchy is taking only positives from the circumstances that have brought the double shuffle.

Steve McCormack, the head coach who steered the senior side through last autumn's World Cup campaign, was due to manage the under-19s this week, but he moved into an overseeing role a few weeks ago after being appointed by Gloucestershire All Golds to take charge of their Championship One campaign, a part-time role that he will perform while continuing to run Warrington Wolves' academy programme.

John Duffy, his World Cup assistant, took up the reins but was approached this week to become head coach at Swinton Lions, a division above the All Golds in the Championship, which directly feeds into Super League.

"These guys are basically working with Scotland as volunteers so this is good news for them personally and good news for all of us," said Keith Hogg, chairman of Scotland Rugby League. "It is fantastic that people are taking notice of what they have achieved. The World Cup was obviously a big part of that."

Yesterday McCormack travelled north from Warrington for under-19 squad training, ahead of returning to his home in Wigan before heading on to the West Country for Gloucester All Golds' main training day.

He then plans to be back in Cumbernauld tomorrow to run the rule over the youngsters in the knockout stages before heading back on Sunday for the All Golds' visit to Hunslet Hawks. "That's commitment, involvement and values and it's exactly what Scotland Rugby League is looking to stand for," said Hogg.

He also paid tribute to Mark Senter, the former Scotland Rugby League development officer who lost that job last year as a result of budget cuts imposed on the organisation right after that World Cup success, yet who has responded to this emergency call.

Senter continues to run the Easterhouse Panthers in Glasgow and, now coaching and development manager with Scottish Rowing, he jumped at the chance to take charge of the under-19s, assisted by Craig Parslow, head coach of Aberdeen Warriors, another of Scotland's leading clubs.

"Mark is another who has shown tremendous commitment; he is taking holidays to coach the side," Hogg said. "Steve is very big on helping us develop home-based coaches, so this has become an excellent opportunity all round."

The main opportunity, though, is for the youngsters, several of them homegrown, who will represent Scotland at Broadwood Stadium today (the first match kicks off at 1pm) and tomorrow. They go in as out­siders in a pool from which Australia, represented by the world champion Sydney Roosters' side, and Wales are expected to progress to the semi-finals and likely meetings with England and Papua New Guinea tomorrow, when the Scots will probably contest the lower placings with South Africa, Canada and Jamaica.

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