New England coach to get post on four-year programme

Wayne Bennett led England to their first World Cup final in 22 years back in December (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire).
Wayne Bennett led England to their first World Cup final in 22 years back in December (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire).
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Veteran Wayne Bennett will be handed a four-year contract if he is re-appointed as England’s head coach.

Bennett, who turned 68 on January 1, guided England to their first World Cup final for 22 years in December, when his initial two-year deal ran out.

The Brisbane Broncos boss has declined to comment on whether or not he would be keen to continue in the job and the Rugby Football League’s chief executive Nigel Wood said before he announced his own imminent departure that he had planned to sit down with Bennett this month to discuss the future.

Ralph Rimmer, who has taken over from Wood in a temporary capacity while the search begins for a replacement, declined to say what stage those talks are at, but hinted much will hinge on the content of a World Cup review currently being undertaken by former England captain Kevin Sinfield in his role as the RFL’s rugby director.

Speaking at a media briefing in Leeds, Rimmer said much of Sinfield’s review will be made public and an announcement on the coaching position is expected to be made within a fortnight.

“We’ll have some announcements in relation to England, including the coaching set-up, in the next couple of weeks,” said Rimmer.

“When we announce the coaching set-up it will be a four-year programme that gets us to the next World Cup in 2021.

“We don’t want one or two years that will give us a mid-term decision to make. It’s not short-termism.”

Bennett was appointed two years ago as the successor to Steve McNamara, who had held the post for six years, and he made Widnes head coach Denis Betts his assistant.

England are due to host New Zealand in a three-match Test series in October and November, but could face the same opponents in mid-season if plans for a match in Denver, Colorado, come to fruition.

Both the RFL and the NZRL are keen to play the fixture, which is seen as a way of raising the profile of rugby league in the United States in the run-up to the 2025 World Cup there, but the plan has encountered opposition from some NRL clubs who are reluctant to see their players make a trans-Atlantic journey in mid-season.

“We’re aiming to announce something about Denver by the end of the month,” Rimmer said. “That might be pushing it, but it’s certainly the intention.

“There’s a bit of public relations to be resolved, but that’s definitely something we’d like to get done in the next week or so. We’d like to take advantage of that mid-season international window.”

The match is pencilled in for the weekend of June 23, which has been set aside by the NRL and Super League for an international break.

The second State of Origin takes place that weekend, along with the Pacific Invitational Series in Sydney.

England flew to Sydney last May to play a mid-season international against Samoa.