Bennett refuses to rule out returning to New Zealand setup

England coach Wayne Bennett has refused to rule out returning to the New Zealand setup.

Bennett, who is currently preparing England for Saturday’s World Cup semi-final with Tonga, played a crucial role in the Kiwis’ run to eventually becoming world champions in 2008, when they beat Australia in the final nine years ago.

Their shock exit to Fiji in this year’s quarter-finals, however, has suggested change could be afoot in the Kiwis ranks, with doubt over whether current coach David Kidwell will continue for next year’s tour of England.

And Bennett, when asked by the media if he would be prepared to return to the Kiwis fold, said: “Yeah, who knows?

“Right now I’m working with England and I’m happy to be there.

“But I enjoyed my time with the Kiwis. We had a great result in that tournament and it’s what brought me back this time, to want be apart of it again, with another country of course. It was a great experience.”

Bennett also defended Kiwis captain Adam Blair, who came under criticism for his comments after their defeat to Fiji last weekend.

“It’s when we’re at our most vulnerable,” he said of players doing interviews immediately after games.

“What we say at those times is maybe not what we really feel. Your country has just been beaten and you are just trying to get your emotions together.

“He had just played his heart out for his country because that’s what Adam does. It’s terribly unfair the amount of pressure they have to come under so quickly.”