Graham: Bennett can help bridge gap

James Graham believes that the appointment of Wayne Bennett as England coach can help close the gap between themselves and Australia and New Zealand.

Wayne Bennett was chosen as the man to replace Steve McNamara as England head coach following McNamara’s contract had expired after the Test Series win over New Zealand in November.

The appointment has excited the Canterbury Bulldogs‘ prop forward and says that the Brisbane Broncos head coach can offer his expertise in making England the top international side.

“It’s going to be very different. I’ve worked with him last year and a couple of days this year and he has been outstanding,” Graham told Canterbury Bulldogs‘ official website.

“I think we’ve shown over the last couple of years we’ve been getting close and Wayne can help us bridge that gap between us and the top two. The most important thing for us will be to have the likes of the Burgess brothers, [Gareth] Widdop and important players like that fit and ready to play.”

All of the players mentioned by Graham are plying their trade in the NRL after moves from their native country, and the 30 year-old offers the pros and cons on the question of whether players should be ‘up to knowing your options’ when given the opportunity of a move Down Under.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22 – obviously it’s good that players come over here and get to play in the NRL. It is a very different competition to the Super League – but the bad thing is that the standard of the Super League is often weakened because of all these players leaving,” he said.

“The best thing about playing here is that it gives you the experience of playing against the superstar Australian and Kiwi players each week. It may sound stupid but you learn that someone like Greg Inglis is human and can be tackled whereas if you are just watching him back in England you think he is almost impossible to tackle.

“Playing against these types of players has helped my game and my headspace when it comes to internationals so the increased English presence here is definitely helping us compete with these players at an international level.”

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