By Josh McAllister @JoshMcSport
Scotland international Kieran Moran has hailed his World Cup selection as a “massive opportunity and a great honour” ahead of the Braveheart’s opening game against Tonga on Sunday.
Moran, who recently won promotion with Hull KR back to the Super League, received only his second call-up of his career to date prior to the tournament, and arrived in Australia last week ahead of his side’s early test at Barlow Park.
The prop forward made his professional debut for The Robins back in 2016, but, despite his young age, has set himself high targets when he hopefully gets to put on the Royal Blue of his homeland.
“My personal goal for this tour would be to earn my first cap,” explained the 20-year-old.
“I played in the friendly last year in the Four Nations but unfortunately that didn’t count as a cap so this time around I would like to get that one ticked off.”
Moran added: “I want to put in a good performance to keep me in Steve’s [McCormack] plans and keep getting involved with Scotland in these big tours.
“I’m seeing it as a massive opportunity and great honour.”
In their first ever Four Nations campaign, the Bravehearts broke history becoming the first ever team outside of the ‘top three’ to claim a point, drawing 18-18 with New Zealand at a wet and windy Derwent Park.
“Last year was great. Everyone wrote us off against New Zealand in the last game, so the boys just used that as motive and strived off it,” Moran said.
“You could say that about the World Cup with the tough group that we have got, but we’ll just take it game by game and put everything into it.”
Now, a year later, Moran is looking to represent his country for the first time against the tournament’s dark horses, after being named in their 21-man squad.
Moran said: “I received a text a few days before I went on holiday that I got into the squad, and then Steve rang me whilst I was away on holiday!
“It was just a great feeling and I was buzzing to get out there knowing I’ve got a chance at playing in a World Cup.
“The trip over was long. We met up in Manchester last Sunday afternoon for a brief and then had a training session before getting on flight to Brisbane.”
He stated: “The boys were pretty shattered but the flight gave us time to get to know each other for the new ones of the group.
“The cabins we are staying in are all close to each other so perfect for everyone to bond on camp going into training.”
Ranked as the fourth best international team in the world, Scotland will also face New Zealand and Samoa in a hard-hitting group, but it is a challenge Moran is looking forward to.
“We’ve got a tough group but that’s what you want, to play against these big teams and test yourself,” said the 20-year old.
“New Zealand are a big threat as they one of best teams in the world but with the players Tonga have acquired for the World Cup they will also be a tough team to beat, as will Samoa.
“They are all good teams and we will have to be at our best every week to get a result, but the boys work hard together so we are prepared.”
Scotland head coach Steve McCormack, who is also the Scholarship Manager of the Wigan Warriors, has been the longest reigning coach in the nation’s history, and has since led the side to a European Cup victory in 2014.
Jay Duffy, Ollie Cruickshank and Dave Rotheram also join McCormack in Australia, in which they will be pushing to beat last World Cup’s records of the Quarter Finals, where they were knocked out by New Zealand.
Super League players Matty Russell (Warrington Wolves), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) and Lewis Tierney (Catalans Dragons) also feature in Scotland’s squad for the forthcoming tournament.
Talking about the opportunity he has earned, Moran said: “Being here in Australia and having the chance to play against some of the best players in the world in a World Cup will be a big test but one I’m definitely looking forward to.
“The camp is good at the minute. All the boys have got to know each other now and have got used to the time difference and the jet lag, so now we’re having a real dig in training working on some combinations.
“We’re ready for that first game against Tonga.”
Scotland kick off their campaign at Barlow Park against Tonga on Sunday, November 29, 06.15GMT kick-off time.