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Scotland turn to Rotheram

Ex-Saints assistant steps in after McCormack granted leave

Last Updated: 07/09/12 8:44am

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Former St Helens assistant coach Dave Rotheram will be in charge of Scotland for the end-of-season Alitalia European Cup after head coach Steve McCormack was given leave of absence for personal reasons.

McCormack, who has coached Scotland with Rotheram as his assistant since 2004, will retain his position as head of performance at Scotland Rugby League and return as head coach ahead of the 2013 World Cup.

The Scots will play Ireland and England Knights, having taken the place of Italy, who were hoping to use the tournament as preparation for their World Cup debut but, according to Rugby League European Federation general manger Danny Kazandjian, pulled out due to the precarious financial situation in the country.

Kazandjian said: "When coupled with the significant expenditure they committed to the World Cup qualifiers, the Italian rugby league felt it was not in a position to support the national squad for a further three weeks, even with a support package from the RLEF.

"It was an extremely difficult decision for FIRL to take, and their board, with the close co-operation of the RLEF, has decided to undertake a full review of their governance to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible in this challenging economic climate."

Instead the Azzuri will concentrate their efforts on the lower-tier European Shield, in which they top the table ahead of Saturday's game against Russia.

In the fixtures, announced today, Scotland will play in the nation's capital for the first time thanks to funding from the City of Edinburgh. They will take on Ireland on October 14 and the Knights a fortnight later, both in Meggetland.

Ireland's game against the Knights will be played in Belfast on October 19.

Excited

Rotheram, a former player with London Broncos, said: "We are really looking forward to this year's Alitalia European Cup and the squad and staff are very excited to be playing in the national capital for the first time ever.

"With the 2013 World Cup coming up, this competition will prove invaluable for our long-term planning and preparation."

Ireland coach Mark Aston said: "We are delighted to be participating in the Alitalia European Cup.

"With the World Cup just over 12 months away it will give us the ideal opportunity to start our preparation in earnest.

"We played against the England Knights before the first Exiles game and for 35 minutes we competed with only a limited amount of preparation and players available so we are certainly looking forward to renewing that battle."

Both England Knights' fixtures will be away and coach Keiron Purtill sees them as a significant test for squad of rising Super League stars.

"We're really excited to be heading into a competition environment," he said. "Our mission is to get the group ready to push for England places for the World Cup in 2013.

"We've got a few new faces in the group and that competition for places will be fiercer as a result.

"The programme is in its second year now so most of the players know what's expected of them and we're really looking forward to a good preparation in camp and then playing Ireland and Scotland."

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