Wayne Bennett unsure on England coaching future

Wayne Bennett admits he doesn’t know if he will be England coach next year.

Bennett watched on as Great Britain lost a third-straight match, going down 23-8 to New Zealand.

His contract expires after next week’s game against Papua New Guinea, with no decision yet to be made on his future.

When asked if he would be in charge next year, he said: “That’s the decision they’ve got to make.

“My contract finishes next week, so we’ll see what they want to do.”

His comments came after he said performances were back at the level when he first took over the role in 2016.

“They played much better than we did, that’s probably the best way to sum it up.

“We could look for a thousand excuses but that’s the reality.

“We didn’t get off the right foot against Tonga two weeks ago and we just haven’t picked up since the last time we played. We’re back to the way we were in 2016 I feel when I first came in as coach.

“I’m not happy that we’ve gone backwards. The opposition has been good, the New Zealand team has been really good.

“It’s probably a whole lot of things. We had half the team here, we only had a week’s preparation going into Tonga. But the bottom line is New Zealand have played really well in the last few games and we’re just a bit off the pace.”

The Lions, once again, improved in the final quarter, after the damage had been done. Bennett wants to see that change next week against Papua New Guinea, though he admitted he wouldn’t make a flurry of changes.

“They get desperate. I want them to be desperate from the kick-off. We weren’t bad, but we weren’t in the place where we should have been at the start tonight.

“I don’t want to go out there and not play well, so it is important to us.

“I’ll make a few (changes) because a couple of boys haven’t had a game so I need to see how they go, but there won’t be any wholesale changes.”

Despite the miserable results, Bennett did insist positives can be taken from the tour.

“We can take a lot out of it.

“Next year and obviously the World Cup year are the prime years. There are a lot of players here who haven’t played before and I’ve tried a few new combinations. If we were going to have a stumble this was the year to do it in, but next year and the year after, I believe with everybody available; we’ve lost Sam (Burgess) and Sean O’Loughlin who are big losses for us.

“But it’s a strong group of players who I believe will get us through the next two years. I just want to try and get them all together at one time and go from there.

“I think one of the things the affected us is that we didn’t have a mid-season Test, I also think our preparation time wasn’t long enough going into the Tonga game. But their attitude to training, their behaviour, has all been outstanding.”