France 6 England 40: We didn’t disrespect anyone, insists Wayne Bennett

England head coach Wayne Bennett says he already has in mind the side he will field against New Zealand (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire).
England head coach Wayne Bennett says he already has in mind the side he will field against New Zealand (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire).
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Wayne Bennett praised England’s debutants – then admitted they may be dropped for their Four Nations opener.

The new coach was missing six players from the side which beat France 40-6 in Avignon on Saturday evening.

Castleford half Luke Gale and Hull FC prop Scott Taylor were among the five debutants, and a “pleased” Bennett said they “all did pretty good.” But asked if he now had a headache for Saturday’s game against New Zealand, Bennett replied: “Not really. I have an idea (of my side). I’m not going to tell you, though.”

Captain Sam Burgess will return from suspension and five Grand Finalists – Wigan quartet Dan Sarginson, John Bateman, George Williams and Liam Farrell, as well as Warrington’s Chris Hill – will come back into the frame.

England flew to France on a chartered flight on game-day, which France coach Aurelien Cologni said was disrespectful.

But Bennett, pleased with a comfortable win, said: “I pretty much worked on instructions. I was pretty happy with what was worked out and we didn’t disrespect anyone.

“No one mentioned to me being here early to promote the game. It was decided that the best way to do it was to jet in (Saturday morning) and that worked for us.”

While pleased with England’s display – “I wasn’t disappointed, I thought we handled it pretty good without blowing them away” – he had words of encouragement for their opponents, who battled until the end.

“France played really hard and completed high,” he said. “I wish France would be where they were 20-odd years ago.

“But watching France today, you have to be optimistic what they can do moving forward, if they hold things together and build from here. They tried really hard, completed high and kept turning up in defence – we just had better players than them.”