Wayne Bennett delighted with performances of several debutants in England win

England coach Wayne Bennett was full of praise for a number of debutants following their comfortable win over France.

They eased past France 44-6 at the Leigh Sports Village on Wednesday in what was a warm-up game for their three-match Test series against New Zealand this autumn.

Bennett handed England debuts to Tom Johnstone, Reece Lyne, Luke Thompson, Adam Milner, Oliver Holmes, Robbie Mulhern, Jamie Shaul and Liam Sutcliffe.

Speaking after the game, he said: “I learned a bit about a couple of players who I hadn’t seen play before and the others were pretty good.

“I thought the guys who made their debuts were really good. Robbie looks quite an accomplished player, I like some of the things he did and the way he went about his business.

“The full-back (Shaul) is really good. I’ve liked him every time I’ve seen him play. He is calm, competes really good and is brave.

“I thought Oliver Holmes was really good and I liked Richie Myler’s organisation as well. He talked a lot out there and got the guys around the park.

“I think Jake Connor is some player. He has a really good skill level. He is a good decision maker and he does a lot of good things. He was good in America and was good again.”

Johnstone, who also qualifies to play for Scotland, scored a hat-trick inside the first 25 minutes on his international debut.

Bennett hinted that he is likely to go with Tommy Makinson and Jermaine McGillvary as his wingers for the series against the Kiwis, but was impressed with the Wakefield Trinity star.

He added: “Tom played well but Tommy Makinson is a pretty good player and Jermaine has shown us all what he can do but if Tom doesn’t make it then he wouldn’t be far off it.

“He wasn’t in contention for the World Cup because the wing position was pretty well covered but over the last 12 months, I’ve been waiting to give him an opportunity and he has come along this year and has certainly got a future on the wing for England but it may not be this year.”

Bennett confirmed that all of the England Knights representatives who stepped up to the senior squad will still be going on the tour to Papua New Guinea with Paul Anderson’s Knights.

About Drew Darbyshire 8032 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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