Wayne Bennett defends Ash Handley selection

Drew Darbyshire

Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett has responded to critics who slammed his decision not to play the recently called up Ash Handley against Papua New Guinea. 

Bennett caused controversy before the tour even started as he selected six half-backs and only two wingers in the squad.

The Lions have called up Leeds winger Handley due to the injuries to Ryan Hall and Oliver Gildart – but he has not been named in the squad to face Papua New Guinea on the final game of the tour this Saturday.

Bennett said: “I wanted to bring him to Papua New Guinea for some culture and experience.

“The reality is that we lost a number of players with injuries, a couple have gone home and they’re all outside-backs.

“We’ve lost three actually, last week against New Zealand we had to put Blake Austin there. I wasn’t sure he could get the job done or not but I was pretty confident he could.

“We didn’t think we could bring someone out from England on Monday or Tuesday and play them in a test match on the Saturday so, looking ahead to here and realising we could have more injuries, we brought him out as a precaution.

“If we had more injuries, we could include him, if we didn’t, we’re happy with what we’ve got and we’ll go with that.”

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