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Scotland welcomes tough World Cup draw

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/07/2016 Ian Laybourn

Scotland boss Steve McCormack has welcomed the challenge after his side were placed in the group of death at the 2017 World Cup.

The Bravehearts, who qualified automatically after reaching the quarter-finals in 2013, are in Pool B alongside co-hosts New Zealand and Pacific rivals Tonga and Samoa.

Although three teams will go through from the group, McCormack's men face a stern challenge to reach the knock-out stages and their cause will not be helped by a daunting schedule.

They open their campaign in Cairns against Tonga before flying to Christchurch to take on the Kiiws and then return to North Queensland for their final group game against Samoa.

"It's a tough draw and a massive challenge," head coach McCormack said. "They are three outstanding teams, very physical teams with high quality players.

"When you put the heat factor into the equation and the travel to New Zealand, it becomes even tougher.

"But that's what World Cups are all about: being tested by the very best in the toughest environment. I've spoken to the other coaches and some players this morning and we're all excited at the prospect of that challenge."

The Bravehearts beat Tonga 26-24 at the pool stage in 2013 before going on to lose 40-4 to New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

The composition of the pools was determined by a number of considerations, including the final placings from 2013 and current world rankings.

England will get the tournament under way against holders Australia in Melbourne on October 27 and then play their first ever international against Lebanon at Sydney Football Stadium on November 4 before flying on to Perth to play their final pool A match against France.

The tournament draw, announced simultaneously at events in Brisbane and Auckland, is following the successful format of the England and Wales event in 2013, with three teams going through to the quarter-finals from the top two pools and one each from pools C and D.

Ireland and Wales are among a group of six nations still hoping to take three of the 14 spots still up for grabs when they complete the European qualifying section this autumn.

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