Scots in a League of Their Own; Star Man: Scotland's Michael Robertson Scoring One of His Three Tries for Manly in Their Recent Australian Cup Final Win over Melbourne

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Byline: ROB ROBERTSON

SOME of them have never set foot in Scotland before and their star man only swore allegiance to the Saltire 10 days ago, after being rejected by Australia.

But before you dismiss them as a collection of mongrels, the players, who will proudly represent the nation in the Rugby League World Cup, insist they can shake off their underdog tag and spring a surprise in the 10-team tournament.

The Scots will take to the field in their opening game against France in Canberra tomorrow fired up at the thought of taking part in a competition which has captured the imagination of the Australian sporting public, if not the people 'back home'.

The Scottish Bravehearts received a warm welcome from the Aussie capital's expat community this week after attending a Burns Night two months early a Piper Idol competition and touring the streets in a kilted procession.

They may have easily won the public relations game but things will be more difficult on the pitch with tough Pool Two matches against the French and then Fiji next Wednesday.

Paddy Coupar, of Edinburgh Eagles, is the only home-based player in the squad and doesn't even make the bench for the opener, with the team comprised of experienced players based in England, Australia and New Zealand.

The squad can't be faulted in terms of links to the homeland, as every player, at the very least, has a Scottish grandmother.

Some have closer ties, like the three Henderson brothers Ian, Kevin and Andrew who were born in Torquay but have a Glaswegian father. The Scottish Rugby Union can't even boast blood links with all their players nowadays, New Zealander Matt Mustchin, for example, qualifying through the residency rule.

Although they are World Cup underdogs, the Bravehearts can't be dismissed as a side thrown together to make up the numbers.

Pick of the bunch is Michael Robertson, who scored three tries to help Manly Warringah Sea Eagles beat Melbourne in the Australian Rugby League Cup Final in front of 80,000 fans just two weeks ago.

Robertson, who has a Scottish granny, swore his allegiance only 10 days ago after failing to make the Australian squad. But the fact he was seriously considered for the host nation, who are firm favourites to win the competition, shows how good a player he is.

Other names to look out for are Canberra Raiders prop Scott Logan, New Zealander Warriors hooker Ian Henderson and captain Danny Brough, who plays for Wakefield.

At the other end of the scale is Gavin Cowan who plays parttime for the West Tigers in New South Wales and holds down a job as a financial analyst. …