McCormack humbled by ‘home’ backing

Italy's Carlo Napolitano with Scotland coach Steve McCormack (right)
Italy's Carlo Napolitano with Scotland coach Steve McCormack (right)
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PROUD Steve McCormack has been overwhelmed by the support from Wigan after guiding unfancied Scotland to the brink of the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Bravehearts are unbeaten after two matches and their success has none gone unnoticed in their coach’s hometown, with “hundreds” of people passing on praise and messages of support.

Latics fan McCormack has been thrilled they have adopted Scotland as their ‘second nation’.

He said: “I’ve had so many messages from people of Wigan.

“I’m talking hundreds, literally hundreds – Latics fans, Warriors fans, friends, strangers. It’s been amazing.

“For me it’s been extremely humbling, because I wouldn’t expect them to support Scotland – I don’t think you’d get that in any other sport.”

As the borough prepares to host a World Cup fixture tonight, when the Cook Islands face Tonga in front of an expected sell-out crowd at Leigh’s Sports Village, McCormack has his sights fixed on the Scots’ clash against another of the tournament’s suprise packages, USA, on Thursday,

Scotland beat Tonga 26-24 in their opening match and backed that up with an equally-thrilling 20-20 draw against Italy on Sunday.

Incredibly, because of a quirk in the cross-pool fixtures, the Scots aren’t guaranteed to qualify for the knock-out stages even if they topple America at Salford.

Such a victory outcome would secure them five points from three matches – but Italy could finish above them in Pool C on points-difference if they overcome Tonga on Sunday.

McCormack said: “That’s just the way it is. All emphasis is on Thursday and getting the result, and that’s going to be tough because USA have been one of the teams of the tournament.

“There have been a lot of exciting games so far and this should be another. No one gave us a chance right from the start, but I’ve not been surprised by how well we’ve done, because I’ve seen how hard the lads have worked.”

If Scotland do reach the quarter-finals, where they would likely face reigning champions New Zealand, there would be one drawback for McCormack.

“I’d have to call my boss and ask for more time off work,” added the Warrington Collegiate teacher. “But hopefully that’s a dilemma I’ll have.”