Former England captain Jamie Peacock has hit out over plans to shake up the England coaching team.
Veteran Australian coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed an approach by the Rugby Football League about the England job and he is expected to take over from Steve McNamara for the 2016 Four Nations Series and next year’s World Cup.
McNamara has been in charge since 2010 and in November guided the national team to a 2-1 triumph over world number one nation New Zealand, a first series win for eight years, but his contract ended with that series and the RFL is thought to be ready to make the change.
However, Peacock, who won a combined total of 47 caps for Great Britain and England and captained his country for seven years up to his retirement from the international game in 2012, believes England are on the brink of a breakthrough internationally and says McNamara deserves a chance to finish the job.
“I was very surprised to see that there is talk of a change to the England coaching position,” Peacock said.
“I have seen the improvements made under Steve McNamara culminating in the series win against the best team in the world New Zealand last autumn. Added to that, the previous year they came within a fingertip of beating Australia in Melbourne.
“The RFL in the past have spoken about a four-year cycle based around the World Cup. We are in the middle of the current cycle and, with two years to the next World Cup, it would be detrimental to undo all the work being done by Steve and his coaching team.
“I think internationally we are on the cusp of some exciting times with England and, with the likes of Sam Burgess returning to rugby league, it would be very disappointing to see the programme effectively being dismantled. I feel that having continuity is key.”
Peacock, who brought his playing career to an end in October and is now football manager at Hull KR, called on the RFL to explain the rationale behind its decision to change course.
“I would like to understand what has been said in the current review,” he said. “In my opinion, anybody who is English and involved in rugby league at any level is a stakeholder in England RL and, if the rumours of change are true, I believe we all have a right to know how the RFL came to this decision.
“The national side have just beaten New Zealand in a three-match series and yet there are rumours for change. It does not sit well with me. I could fully understand and would support change if we had lost the series, but that is not the case.”