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World Cup scouting report - Scarsbrook

BBC Sport is embarking on a series of scouting missions to find out which of Super League's young guns should be on the plane to Australia for the World Cup in October.

McCarthy-Scarsbrook will be out for four months but will be back in plenty of time for the World Cup

First up, we cast our eye over Harlequins prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who has won the praise of a number of you. Here's just a selection of your views:

"The speedy prop-forward from London brings real pace, fight and spirit to the front-row. Real speed in the pack is something that England lack, LMS to make the step up."
Sam Miller

"The quickest prop I've ever seen and a no-nonsense player."
Neil Williamson

"Louie is young, determined, talented and quick. He is showing the kind of form that allowed Sam Burgess to take rep honours."
Alexander Swift

"A London lad with all the passion and talent that makes the Super League what it is. A real bright one for the future."
Jack Fletcher-Brown

Now find out what our man thought when he went to see Louie in action against Leeds at Headingley. Sadly for the Quins ace, it was not a night to remember.

By George Riley

I've not been alone in admiration of 22-year-old Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

In fact, everyone's been raving about him. Seventeen stone of Lewisham brute force with an eye for the tryline, the player is a real character, too.

He's an exciting young talent and I was very impressed by him

Leeds coach Brian McClennan on Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook

"He's a tough old boot," says his coach at Harlequins, Brian McDermott.

"Every time I listen to him speak he sounds like a bloke out of 'Snatch'. You do really think he's gonna sell you a caravan and the wheels will drop off two minutes later."

LMS started on the bench against Leeds - which surprised me - but the reason soon became apparent.

Karl Temata and former Rhino Danny Ward began up front to try to wear down the monster opposition pack of Kylie Leuluai and Ryan Bailey.

At least that was the idea, but early tries from Jamie Peacock and Jamie-Jones Buchanan meant Quins were staring down the barrel from early on.

With the visitors 12-0 adrift, LMS came off the bench midway through the half and immediately had a positive effect.

"He lifted them, so that was an obvious ploy by them - and a good one," said Rhinos coach Brian McClennan. "He's an exciting young talent and I was very impressed by him."

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook in action for Harlequins
McCarthy-Scarsbrook made his Super League debut in 2006

Louie's first action was a terrific, one-on-one ball steal on halfway.

Two tackles later came his first drive, bouncing off the first tackler, clobbered by the second.

On 26 minutes, it became obvious to me that Leeds had singled this kid out for treatment.

Soon after, he drove into a sea of blue and amber and was absolutely walloped by a Ryan Bailey-Nick Scruton sandwich.

The thud made my headphones rattle as I was commentating. The next tackle it happened again - this time JJB and Scruton pounced on him.

I pushed McClennan on his tactics after the game and was impressed with his honesty.

"It's not often I look at the other team when we're playing and start identifying players, but I guess I did a bit with him," he told me.

"It's a sign of respect that our forwards went after him. When you're playing against a good player, you have to up the ante and try to keep him at bay."

Next drive in, LMS wanted his own back and clattered into Scruton and Luke Burgess.

Even against a very good Leeds Rhinos team, he looked physically strong

Quins coach Brian McDermott

Far from hiding from the treatment he was getting, LMS wanted an arm wrestle - and McDermott loved his attitude.

"You start playing well and they single you out and try to smack your head off," the former Leeds assistant coach told me.

"I wouldn't say Leeds did a job on him because he still carried the ball and had one carry where he almost went through. Even against a very good Leeds Rhinos team, he looked physically strong. "

LMS couples an impressive defensive work-rate with a potent attacking threat.

You wouldn't expect a man of 6ft 3in to crop up unattended, running angles like a centre, but just before half-time he almost scrambled a Quins try down the right wing.

Leeds held out and at 24-0 their half-time deficit appeared insurmountable - indeed the Rhinos would add exactly that margin again after the break for a 48-0 win.

Louie's stint lasted from his introduction on 20 minutes to his enforced withdrawal on the 50-minute mark.

Teams are beginning to catch on that McCarthy-Scarsbrook is a threat
Teams are beginning to catch on that McCarthy-Scarsbrook is a threat

A moment on 47 minutes summed the player up for me. A monster hit - the hit of the night from Rhinos kids Burgess and Simon Worrall - threw back Louie's head, his body rocked like a rag doll.

But before he hit the deck, an Inspector Gadget-like arm flew out behind his back to swing out a Harlem Globetrotters offload to Danny Orr. Unbelievable.

Sadly, that was his last contribution. Louie's next drive ended in a rare handling error - a knock on. He stayed down clutching his wrist and was immediately taken down the tunnel.

"He has broken his wrist or arm and will be out for some weeks," revealed McDermott afterwards.

"It's a shame as he's started to look a bit more like what we hope he's going to perform for us over the next year to 18 months.

"Hopefully it's a clean break - just a six-weeker - and we'll look to get him back as quick as we can."

Unfortunately, the news was not good. Louie, it turns, out, will face four months on the sidelines.

Nevertheless, I was hugely impressed with his 30-minute cameo against the Rhinos.

As I was by his reaction to the blow when I met him in the Headingley tunnel at full-time. Battered and bruised, arm in a sling, I expected him to be down on his luck, but his beaming smile was infectious.

He knows he has a lot to learn in the game, but he's a tough player and one for this season and for the future

Jamie Peacock

Before I could ask Louie how the arm is he was approached by Peacock, who took him aside and told him he'd had a brilliant start to the season.

When I asked Louie how his arm was, he replied: "Ah, it's alright, George. I've just taken loads of painkillers, so it doesn't hurt at all!"

McDermott thinks Louie, a bit of a fidget, will get bored during his lay-off.

"I'll be all right. I'll be the best waterboy ever," laughed Louie.

As he skipped off to the team bus I asked him if thought he would be part of England's World Cup squad later this year.

"I'll let this heal first then I'll see," he said with a smile.

Well, I'll answer my own question for him. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook can definitely make the England squad.

Like Sam Burgess, he's a power prop with a deceptive turn of pace, and he possesses real twinkle-toes for a big man.

George Riley

"I'm a master of dumbing things down but I will not dumb this one down. He could play for Great Britain, there is no doubt about that," said McDermott.

And you won't find McClennan or Peacock disagreeing.

"England at the end of the season is a realistic goal for Louie - and why wouldn't it be," said McClennan. "He has good athleticism, he's a good young talent, and let's just hope he keeps progressing."

Peacock believes Louie has something that sets him apart from other young players.

"I'm very impressed by him," said the Leeds man. "He knows he has a lot to learn in the game, but he's a tough player and one for this season and for the future.

"He's got power and pace, some good physical attributes. He's a strong guy with quick feet, but also the ability to want learn off the pitch which is so important."

Louie, an England World Cup hopeful?

Absolutely. Just don't buy a caravan off him.

see also
Quins prop faces four months out
17 Mar 08 |  Harlequins
Leading the way in London
06 Feb 08 |  Harlequins
Quins ace tipped for England call
06 Feb 08 |  Harlequins

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