Scotland’s World Cup campaign has descended into further chaos after three of their players – including their captain and star player – were sent home from the tournament for misconduct. The trio are understood to have been too drunk to board a flight.
The Huddersfield half-back and Scotland captain, Danny Brough, Featherstone’s Sam Brooks and the former Super League forward Johnny Walker will play no further part in the World Cup after remaining in Christchurch over the weekend as the squad departed for their final group game in Cairns.
It is understood the trio were refused permission to fly back to Australia after being too drunk to fly to Brisbane – leaving their international careers hanging firmly in the balance.
Scotland, who have suffered comprehensive back-to-back defeats to Tonga and New Zealand in the opening fortnight of the tournament, will now head to Cairns for their do-or-die Group B game against Samoa without the trio.
“We expect everyone involved in Scotland Rugby League to adhere to the highest standards of behaviour,” said the Scotland RL chairman, Keith Hogg. “We fully support the code of conduct that is in place for everyone who is involved in the 2017 World Cup.
“We all understand our responsibilities to the game and we must respect the sport and everyone who is involved in it at all times. Unfortunately, these three players have not adhered to those standards and those values and will be leaving early from a tournament that it is a privilege for us to be involved in.”
The France hooker Eloi Pelissier has also been sent home for misconduct, which is understood to have been for breaking a team curfew. Pelissier, 26, who joined Leigh from Catalans Dragons just over 12 months ago, played in France’s 52-6 defeat by Australia in Canberra on Friday and was expected to face England in the final Group A match in Perth next Sunday.
It is the second disciplinary breach for the French, who left Hull utility player Hakim Miloudi behind for disciplinary reasons after he played in their warm-up match against Jamaica in Perpignan.
Scotland’s hopes of qualification are still in their own hands, and they will reach the quarter-finals should they beat Samoa. However, the same cannot be said for Wales, whose chances of progressing are over following their second successive heavy defeat in the group stages.
John Kear’s side were beaten 72-6 by Fiji in Townsville on Sunday, meaning they cannot qualify from Group C. They have conceded 122 points in two games following their 50-6 defeat to Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby – and are now playing only for pride against Ireland next weekend.
Ireland can still qualify with a win in that game, but they need a minor miracle from the United States, who must beat PNG – who are unbeaten at the tournament – to open the door for Mark Aston’s side to reach the quarter-finals. They were beaten 14-6 by the Kumuls in Port Moresby to leave PNG firmly in control of Group C – with the winners of that group likely to face England in the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
If, as expected, England are paired with PNG in the quarter-finals, perhaps the one small mercy for Wayne Bennett’s side is that the game will be held in Melbourne instead of the hostile environment which has greeted Ireland and Wales in Port Moresby throughout the group stages.