Acting RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer has revealed that the sport’s governing body hope to announce the next England coach and a proposed friendly against New Zealand in Denver before the end of this month – before Rimmer also admitted he is interested in succeeding Nigel Wood on a permanent basis.
Rimmer, who is in interim charge following Wood’s departure, has insisted that whether the new coach is Wayne Bennett or someone else, they will have to commit to a four-year plan which will take them through to the next World Cup, saying they are planning long-term.
And Rimmer admitted they are nearing announcements on both the coaching role and the mid-season Test in Denver.
He said: “We’re hoping to have an announcement (on Denver) by the end of the month, that’s what we’re aiming for. It might be pushing it a little bit but that’s the intention. There’s a bit of public relations to be resolved but that’s something we’d like to get sorted within the next week or so.”
On whether the NRL clubs were acting as a stumbling block for the game, he added: “I’d say there’s some PR to be sorted, some hearts and minds to be won to hopefully get us to a good place. We certainly want to be able to take advantage of that mid-season window.”
And on discussions with Bennett, Rimmer was coy on whether the veteran Australian will be the man to lead England forward.
He said: “On Wayne, one of the things we will say is that when we announce the coaching setup, it has to be a four-year programme that gets us to the World Cup. We’re working on a four-year cycle up to the next tournament and all the discussions we’ve had internally are on a four-year cycle which doesn’t just include the World Cup, but also broadcast deals, Sport England and things like that. We’ve just got couple of pieces to put in place.
“I think we’ll wait until we get to the announcement. We don’t want to do anything on one or two years which gives us a mid-term decision to make, the idea is that it’s not short-termism, it gets us to a certain place at the right time.”
And on whether the RFL had received expressions of interest from elsewhere over the role, Rimmer stated: “The people that we’re talking to, we’ve not invited those discussions. We’ve been out to whoever we need to speak to.
“I don’t think his (Bennett’s) involvement would definitely be determined by Denver. It’s ourselves that are driving that, and Wayne has hinted to the press that he’s really enjoyed his time in charge – but there’s a lot of other pieces of the jigsaw until we get to the right place. The board have to be happy with the decision; we definitely made progress despite not getting to where we wanted to. It was a big year for us but 2021 is what we’re aiming to now.”
And on his own future, Rimmer did concede he wants to succeed Wood full-time – but said that there is no clear timeframe on when his replacement will be confirmed.
He said: “I am putting myself forward, yes. The process will be run by the Non-Executive Directors. I can’t tell you the exact timetable of the process – they will gauge when it’s most appropriate time to do it. I imagine it’ll take place over the next few months but I can’t tell you.”