England and France mid-season Test in 2019 is a possibility, admit Wayne Bennett and Aurelien Cologni

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

England coach Wayne Bennett said playing France in a mid-season Test in 2019 could well be an option.

The mid-season Test between England and New Zealand in Denver will not go ahead next year after the Rugby Football League and New Zealand Rugby League failed to receive the full amount of money they initially agreed with the event promoter Moore Sports International.

And the Kiwis have pencilled in a Test with Tonga in the mid-season break in 2019, leaving England with little options.

Speaking after England’s 44-6 win over France at Leigh on Wednesday, Bennett revealed that England could end up playing Les Chanticleers next year.

“It could be an option, of course,” he admitted.

“France will be keen to show how serious they are about international football as well but you can’t not have your best players available. Fair enough if they have got injuries and stuff but some just not playing is not going to help the game in France.

“We scored an early try and that was the type of game we needed. I don’t know any of the French players, I don’t know what their backgrounds are and I don’t know how many play in Super League but I just thought they were better in the second half after they got blown off the park in the first half.

“I’m pleased we gave them an opportunity to represent their country and if we don’t continue to do things like that then we will only have three or four nations playing international football so it is all part of the journey.”

France will now compete in the 2018 European Championship, which doubles up as a qualifier for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. They face Wales, Ireland and Scotland this autumn.

And France coach Aurelien Cologni admitted that although they may not face England next year, they need to be playing tier-one nations to get better.

He said: “I would like to speak to the French federation about a game in June and to have less games at the end of the season.

“Every player wants to play for their country but it is difficult when you have a long season, playing in the Championship and Cup and then a minimum of four games with the national team.

“Maybe the seasons are too long for players at the minute. The seasons are tough and their bodies finish with a lot of aches and they are mentally tired so I think it is important not to push the players.

“I think June is a good window to play one game like England do but we have to have the best opposition for us.”