‘My Life in Rugby League’ with Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook filed for League Express after he made his debut for England against Wales in 2008. Louie has since moved north and will play for St Helens from 2011.
What was your overriding emotion last week? Pride in playing for England or disappointment in not being selected to go to the World Cup.
Very proud to make my international debut but, of course, I was disappointed not to make the final squad. Even so I was made up to be in the train-on squad and to play last Friday because there are so many quality players that Tony Smith could have selected.
Are you on stand-by for the World Cup?
I’ve not been told that I am; I think we’re all on the list. I’m keeping myself fit – the engine is ticking over.
What were your thoughts on the game?
It was very enjoyable to play in and, although it was one-sided, Wales had some very young players in their team and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with soon. It was also great for Harlequins to have three players in the England side and hopefully Rob [Purdham] can do us proud in the World Cup. He’s an outstanding player, our skipper and so underrated. I think he should be in the team.
Do you think you’ll make the England side for 2009?
If I play well next year and stay injury free then it would be fantastic. Tony Smith has already shown he’ll only pick players in top form. I’ve also heard the opening game might be at Wembley and it would be incredible to be a part of something like that.
Do you think the wrist injury you sustained earlier in the season ultimately stopped you going to the World Cup?
No. Injuries happen to all Rugby League players so there’s no point in saying, “If it hadn’t have been for…” I was going well before the injury and played OK after it. It didn’t have a bearing in the end.
When did you first play Rugby League?
I went to school in Lewisham and one of the teachers, Mr Hogg, told us of a local Rugby League trial so I went down with the Worrincy brothers, Mike and Rob. I really got into it and also played for London and the South and was then picked up by the Broncos. I also played a few games for Greenwich Admirals.
How old were you when you played for the Admirals?
I was 15 or 16. It was great because I really didn’t know what I was doing and learned a lot from my few games there. They played at Woolwich army barracks and it was a good learning curve for me before I went to the Broncos.
Tell us about the BARLA Under-18’s tour to Australia in 2004 which you went on.
I had an absolutely fantastic time. It was the first time I’d been to Australia and Michael Worrincy also toured. So did Danny Kirmond who’s now at Huddersfield. We played four games – in Sydney, Brisbane, Forbes and Darwin. Darwin was so hot I don’t even want to think about it! I played in all four games against Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Alliance, and we won two. In one, we were winning, really smashing them but Jarryd Hayne scored a last-minute try to take it away from us. But a great experience.
What was it like playing in the London Broncos’ Academy?
I loved it. We were a group of young lads from east and south-east London. We had a ‘beat-’em up’ kind of team – just a bunch of mates going up north to do what we could. We were crammed into two minibuses – that’s the whole squad with our bags on our knees and all the tackle bags around us. The furthest we went was up to Gateshead, a journey that never ended – ridiculous! We had a good team, though. There were the Worrincys and Ade Adebisi and we made the play-offs.
Why did you have a year in Hull in 2005?
Because London didn’t have an Under-21’s side. It was where Mike I learned our trade. I was 18 and living away from my parents for the first time so it was… class! We had a shared house which was such a mess that you didn’t want to get up in the mornings; and we had a puppy which made it worse. It was a real eye opener playing with blokes who had played Rugby League since the age of four and the coaches, Steve Crookes and Andy Last, couldn’t have done more for us. They took us under their wings and were like dads to us. We fitted in with the other lads straightaway and it was quality learning because the skill levels were phenomenal.
Do you remember much about your Quins Super League debut in 2006?
Yes, I’ll never forget it! We lost 60-0 to Leeds at home. I remember Tony Rea telling me I was in the team. I was over the moon and remember telling my parents and fixing them up with tickets. I remember warming up and being scared. I had butterflies in my stomach and went to the toilet about four times! I went on then came off absolutely knackered. It was so fast and I had to do more defending than I could have ever imagined but I was proud of what I’d done despite the result. I thanked Tony Rea for giving me the chance and went on to play five games that year and even scored a try in a game against the Catalans.
How highly do you rate your coach, Brian McDermott?
He’s a class coach with great technical ability and awareness of the game. He’s proper good in video sessions and stuff like that. He’s a great bloke and he rang us all when we were selected to play for England to wish us well. He’s breeding some really good youngsters down here and doing a great job. After that 2006 season, we had a sit-down talk and he told me what he expected of me and what I had to do to get into the team and I made the side for round one of 2007.
That was the game you won at Knowsley Road in the snow.
[laughs] It was so cold that we had coats wrapped around us at half-time and we had the water bottles filled with hot water to warm our hands! I was soaked and my hands were blue at the end but it was an amazing win. I played 23 games last year and was chuffed to play so many.
How would you assess your form this year?
I started well but my broken wrist saw me miss a chunk of games. I then came back against Leeds, the team I had broken it against, and we beat them at home with a lot of home-grown players in the side. I did OK after the injury. As a team we need to be more consistent because we might beat Leeds but then lost to Wakefield, no disrespect to Wakefield. Talking of them I couldn’t believe the news about Adam Watene the other day. Ryan Atkins was telling me recently what a good bloke he was and I know from my experiences how good a player he was.
Do you ever get recognised in London?
Yes, I once got recognised in Tesco and signed an autograph but he was a proper fan. It’s sometimes good not to get recognised because I can fill the trolley with cookies! It also keeps the pressure off a bit which isn’t always a bad thing.
How are Harlequins going as a club?
A club can only be described as strong if it’s winning things like Saints and Leeds. So we know what we have to do – we have to win the Challenge Cup or the Grand Final and that’s the aim for next year. The state of the game in London is great, especially with the amount of kids playing the game. Our Under-21s got to the play-offs this year, narrowly losing to Huddersfield and we have so many good young players here like Will Sharp, Jamie O’Callaghan, Luke May and Danny Williams. You just don’t understand how good Will is – he’s an absolute talent. Jamie’s a winger with a body like Stuart Fielden’s; quick too.
Do you get fed up woth people saying that you have an unusual name for a Rugby League player?
[laughs] Not really! My mum and dad weren’t married and they argued for ages whose surname me and my sister would have. In the end we got both and it took until we got to 12 before we could spell it!