Wood defends Bennett


RFL chief executive Nigel Wood as thrown his support behind England coach Wayne Bennett, saying the Australian has “challenged the sport in this country” to be better.

Bennett was appointed as Steve McNamara’s replacement in February. Under him England failed to make the Four Nations final after losses to New Zealand and Australia.

“If you spend any time in Wayne Bennett’s company you would be clear, it’s almost like the aura the players hold him in and his track record of success,” Wood said.

“And I think he’s challenged us. He’s challenged us organisationally, he’s challenged the sport in this country to say this is what I think we need to do to become as good as the best in the world.

“And I think that is a healthy challenge. It’s appropriate if you’re going to often someone who’s regarded as best in class, then you’ve probably got an obligation to listen to what he’s telling you when he says this is what we need to do to do better internationally.

“I think it’s a really interesting period of time for the national team…. it’s really positive.”

Wood admitted England‘s Four Nations campaign was disappointing not to get to Anfield.

“There was some encouragement but it was disappointing,” he said.

“We all would have aimed to reach the final. I do know that ithe players themselves and the coaching staff and everybody was disappointed not to get to the final at least.

“But all the feedback within the camp has been tremendously positive about the experience.

“With a new coach the five weeks that he spent with the players was invaluable and they all benefitted.

“All of the feedback I got back was very positive. But obviously we would have swapped a bit of that to have made the final.”

Asked if Bennett, who is contracted until the end of the next World Cup, could continue on as Englan coach in 2018 Wood said: “Who knows? That’s not an impossibility.”