Rugby League World Cup: Scotland's Alex Walker backed against New Zealand

Alex Walker in action for London Broncos
Alex Walker has caught the eye with London Broncos
Rugby League World Cup: New Zealand v Scotland
Date: Saturday, 4 November Venue: Christchurch Stadium Kick-off: 04:00 GMT
Coverage: Report, highlights and reaction on BBC Sport website

London Broncos' Alex Walker has been backed to shine in place of the in-form Lewis Tierney at full-back against New Zealand.

Coach Steve McCormack has made three changes for Saturday after Scotland's 50-4 defeat by Tonga in their opening World Cup Group B match in Cairns.

"I thought Lewis Tierney was one of the standout players on the field to be fair," McCormack said.

"He was outstanding, but Alex Walker has been great for London."

Already missing the injured Lachlan Coote, the Bravehearts began their campaign without David Scott after he injured his back during the warm-up match against a New South Wales Country Under-23 team.

Tierney wore the number one jersey against the Tongans but will switch to the wing to accommodate Walker, who made his Scotland debut in the 2015 European Championship.

"I've been really impressed by his attitude throughout the World Cup so far and he deserves a chance," said McCormack of 22-year-old Harlow-born Walker.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how Alex performs on the world stage.

"He's an emerging talent and deserves a crack."

Scotland's Lewis Tierney in action against Tonga
Lewis Tierney will switch to the wing against New Zealand

McCormack is also set to give debuts to 20-year-old Bradford centre Brandan Wilkinson and Sydney Roosters second rower Jarred Anderson in Christchurch.

"People like Brandan Wilkinson and Jarred Anderson have earned the call by the way they've trained," said the coach. "I'm more than comfortable putting them in.

"It's a very young team, but they've trained really well, they've earned the right to play in this World Cup and I've every confidence in them.

"To play New Zealand in Christchurch will be a fantastic experience for them.

"It's important they step up as well. Test matches in New Zealand are no place for the faint-hearted."

McCormack expects Scott to be unavailable for Scotland's final group game against Samoa, which is back in Cairns, on 11 November.

"It's been whirlwind travel, so we've not been able to do an awful lot of training yet, but we're all enjoying Christchurch," he added.

"We had a fantastic welcome by the local community yesterday.

"It's a bit cooler, but it's like a good Scottish summer's morning, beautiful and sunny and not as humid as Cairns.

"The weather is spot on and we're looking forward to Saturday."

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