Wayne Bennett feeling nostalgic over Great Britain return

Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett said the Lions coming back took him on a trip down memory lane.

The Lions will return this autumn after a 12-year absence, with their last series coming against New Zealand on home soil back in 2007.

Bennett’s men will take on New Zealand twice, Tonga and Papua New Guinea in the southern hemisphere later this year.

On the return of Great Britain, Bennett said: “Well, the England part was a bit foreign to me because it was always Great Britain!

“I’m really pleased that it’s back and the players are really pleased, too. All the English players in Australia were elated about playing for Great Britain when we got together.

“I know Sam [Burgess] played his first Test match in 2007 and that was the last time Great Britain played.

“In Australia, Great Britain is a household name in terms of the older people, not so much the younger ones. We don’t see the tours anymore, people my age and a bit younger than me certainly remember them all and what an impact they had on our country. It was something we looked forward to every four years.”

Bennett admitted that he wasn’t fussed about having a mid-season international this year, but definitely wants one next year for England as the build-up to the World Cup gathers pace.

He added: “I’m not too frustrated that we didn’t have one this year to be honest.

“It was important that we were involved a couple of years ago and last year we were in America, which was a great experience for us all.

“Going forward, if we want to compete with the best and that’s Australia – we can’t keep missing opportunities. One year off in three I can tolerate but I certainly want to be back next year playing.

“It just gives players an opportunity again to be exposed to a higher level of competition and that’s the only way we are going to get better.”

Bennett met up with the NRL-based England players six weeks ago and caught up with Super League’s English players on Monday.

Paul Wellens will not be an assistant coach for Great Britain this year, while Jimmy Lowes is currently working in rugby union. Bennett and Rugby Football League rugby director Kevin Sinfield are currently interviewing candidates to become Great Britain’s assistants.

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