Transcript of Wayne Bennett’s press conference following Papua New Guinea defeat

A disappointing loss today to end the tour, what would you put it down to?

“They played pretty good. We had some great moments in the game, but they played, I reckon, 42 minutes at their best and we played 38 at our best and they got more points than we did.

How would you assess the tour as a whole now, Wayne?

“Obviously disappointed, I think we’ve underachieved. But it is what it is. We’ve played four games and we’ve played quality teams, it just hasn’t been our… I just made the point in another interview I just did that you all need to have a good look at what’s happened in the international game. To the credit of the international game, it’s been going up for five or six years now and we’re starting to see the benefit of it. They’re playing more Test matches and more competition. You’ve seen the emergence of Tonga, you see how much your team has improved. You’re playing in the State League which you weren’t up until five or six years ago. Samoa is much improved and the boys want to play for their country now. Whilst we’ve got to swallow a bitter pill as Great Britain, the other side of it is the game is getting stronger.

“It was a wonderful game of football there tonight, everyone was thoroughly entertained, you saw the excitement of the crowd, there were some great tries and great moments. If I look at that side of it, I’m pleased with it, if I look at our performance side, I’m disappointed that we underachieved and didn’t have a great tour. We had some great moments but not a great tour.

You lost your captain, James Graham in the first tackle, did that have an effect?

It didn’t stop us getting the 10-0 and dominating the game. Up until we threw a bad pass out of the back of a scrum. I’m sitting here telling you how it is, I’m not making any excuses, I don’t want to put blame anywhere because the bottom line is we played in a wonderful game of football, both teams gave a lot.

Earlier in the tour, you said players had gone backwards two years, how do you improve that when you’ve so limited time with them?

To make that point, we’re coming into half-time there and I talked about that pass. We got straight into the second half and on the last play we dropped the ball, gave them great field position and they come away and score. They scored on the next one and we drop the ball. To Papua New Guinea’s credit, they hardly did that and that’s what we need to get better at, completing our sets more. The games at a place now where if you’re not completing at 85% you’re in a fair bit of trouble. The first half we were at 90% and should have been up 16-0 but we weren’t.

We missed the mid-year test this year and we need to play in that, that’s where these guys are getting their improvements from. Then at the end of the season at well. England and Great Britain can’t sit back and think they’ve come out of good competitions, have good players and can come in under-prepared. Australia come in with an Origin series behind them, New Zealand come in after playing Australia. Everyone is doing more preparation than we are. If we want to compete we have to get back to that level.

We do need that. We had nothing this year as you know. I think it would have a big impact on us and our lead up team needs to be longer. We need a 10-day period and a 12-day as well. Otherwise, we’ll continue to have disappointment, that’s just the way it is.

On his future.

I don’t know. My contract is up now so we’ll wait and see. We’ll have some discussions. Tonight’s not a good night to make decisions. You’re emotional and not in a good place. Coaching has told me that much. Don’t make decisions within 24 hours and after Grand Finals not withing six weeks.

Have you still got the appetite?

I don’t think anyone would say I don’t have the appetite. It’s not my decision now, we’ll talk with some people, see what’s going on and go from there.

Which players came out of the tour with credit?

It’s a good question. It’s a hard one, nobody dominated the tour. John Bateman was probably as good as anybody. We had a lot of changes, we didn’t keep going with the same thirteen. I thought Tom Burgess had a pretty good series actually. He stood up pretty well. The others were mixed here and mixed there.