RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has defended his appointment of Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett as the new England coach, saying that Bennett is the best coach in the world and that is what the England squad deserves as it prepares for this year’s Four Nation’s tournament and next year’s World Cup.
Wood is confident that the decision not to renew Steve McNamara’s contract to coach the national team is the right one.
“Steve’s contract expired at the end of December 2015, so it was a natural time to pause and reflect on what to do going forward,” said Wood.
“We concluded that England’s chances of success would be enhanced if we asked Wayne to take the role.
“Steve was national coach for almost six years, an unprecedented period of time which reflects the regard and esteem in which he is held. It is beyond question that he moved the England project along significantly, including not only the elite team but also the Knights and junior grades. Everyone at the RFL is delighted that his stint as coach ended with a series victory. He leaves the role with his reputation completely intact.”
Wood believes that Bennett can take England to another level, and he dismisses concerns about his nationality.
“Wayne Bennett is the pre-eminent coach of the modern, possibly any era,” added Wood.
“He has a proven track record at club and representative level and is a sincere internationalist. The current group of players is an exciting proposition and they deserve the best in class coaching support to maximise the opportunity to succeed on behalf of the country.
“Wayne’s nationality is a non-issue for me. It’s actually about competence, ability and desire to succeed and I have no question marks on any front.
“We do, however, recognise that the coaching support group should ideally be populated by coaches from the Super League and this is what we will be seeking to achieve with the future appointments. Ultimately it is of course Wayne’s call, as you would expect.
“The coming years will undoubtedly be an exciting and important time for international Rugby League, with the Four Nations this year and the World Cup only 20 months or so away. We have got a great group of players and now the undisputed best coach. I am sure that is a combination everyone can get behind.”