Bennett relishes England challenge

Wayne Bennett admits it won’t be easy converting England into world beaters.

But he reckons it won’t be hard juggling England duties with his job as NRL club Brisbane’s head coach.

Bennett was on Tuesday appointed England’s new head coach on a two-year contract, taking the reins through the 2016 Four Nations and the 2017 World Cup.

Bennett succeeds former Bradford boss Steve McNamara, whose contract ran out at the end of November’s Test series against New Zealand.

England last made a World Cup final in 1995 and have never won the title.

Great Britain won the 1972 World Cup.

Bennett did not have to be reminded of the challenge that lay ahead.

But asked if he wanted to take England “to the top”, Bennett told reporters on Wednesday: “That’s why I am going there.

“It won’t be easy, it will be a difficult challenge.

“I understand that but I am up for that.

“I wouldn’t have accepted the job if I didn’t think I was.

“There is still no better spectacle in sport than Australia against England whether it be cricket, rugby union or rugby league.

“So hopefully we can make them a lot more competitive.”

Bennett made it clear he still wanted to coach an international side after he was pipped for the Kangaroos job by Mal Meninga.

He will line up against Meninga’s Kangaroos and New Zealand’s Stephen Kearney – the Broncos assistant coach – when England host the Four Nations in October and November.

Asked about taking on his former charge Meninga in the Four Nations, Bennett smiled: “It will be good for the competition, it will get a lot of interest.”

Bennett has twice coached Australia and was a mentor to Kearney when New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup.

The seven-time premiership-winning coach did not believe the England role would interfere with his Broncos duties.

Bennett is preparing Brisbane as they look to back up from last season’s heartbreaking NRL grand final loss to North Queensland.

“That won’t be hard. That was one of the reasons I was keen to do the Australian job because it fits at the end of the football season,” he said.

“It’s not going to impact on the club at all, that’s pretty important to me.”

Bennett said he had been approached on and off over the past five to six years about the England job but felt the time was finally right to take the reins.

“Wayne is quite rightly regarded as the outstanding coach of his generation and I am delighted that we have been able to secure his services,” RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said.

The appointment has divided opinion.

Former England captains Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield have criticised the move, insisting that McNamara should have been re-appointed.

Immortal Wally Lewis said an Australian should not be coaching an England team.

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