Wayne Bennett is the man to take England forward

Wayne Bennett may have failed to reach the final of the Four Nations but the 66-year-old is receiving backing to head England’s World Cup campaign in 2017. With a number of bookies and online sports tipsters bound to speculate in the coming weeks, the talk, it seems, could be in the skipper’s favour.


Mal Meninga, head coach of Australia, has been singing the praises of Bennett and England. The 56-year-old said: “Don’t write off England, they are not far off it. Wayne knows how to put a team together. If they start the World Cup off on the right foot and get consistency they will be hard to beat.”


There is no denying Bennett’s talent for coaching. The Australian is the most successful coach in the rugby league of his homeland and boasts seven Grand Final wins.


However, he does not seem to be faring well in England thus far, Bennett has fell under criticism for his poor handling of the media during the Four Nations and publically criticised his side after Sunday’s 36-18 loss by Australia. Bennett claimed that his side often “self-destructed”.


Bennett’s pre-match comments about being judged on winning games seem equally as baffling. England won only once in the Four Nations, with a 38-12 win over a lacklustre Scotland. That said, relieving Bennett of his duties is not England need right now and letting him see out the remainder of his two-year contract is best for both parties.


Of course Bennett’s selection choices are deservedly scrutinised. His decision to completely omit Daryl Clark from the 17-man squad prior to the game against Australia raised many eye brows, though it is a clear indication that Bennett is still tinkering with his squad trying to find his best starting 13. As well, Bennett paired Kevin Brown and Gareth Widdop making the double his third chosen partnership in three games.


Retrospectively, England were not terrible and it’s clear that Bennett can make improvements, but there’s also a lot to be discussed. England created many chances which they ultimately failed to capitalise on. The Red and Whites also spilled far too many passes and conceded frustrating penalties. If the faults in these parts of their game can be ironed out far more tries would have been scored and the defeat would not have been so heavy, if at all.


Bennett admitted that problems would be too big to overcome if players did not change their attitude. Many in the England squad tend to self-implode upon making a mistake rather than recomposing themselves. If they could find some confidence and end their tendency to collapse, it would be a different story come match day.


Bennett’s wish to play Samoa in Sydney next May has been granted which will be hugely beneficial to the squad. Clearly England’s players need more hours on the training ground in order to sharpen their skills and up their game. With the World Cup starting in October 2017, the game would be the perfect chance for the English players to regroup before the major tournament.

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