Bennett wants to leave England legacy

Wayne Bennett: I do not care if England Rugby League team like me

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Wayne Bennett: I do not care if England players like me

England head coach Wayne Bennett says he wants to leave a legacy from his time in charge of the team.

The 66-year-old Australian, who replaced Steve McNamara earlier this month, has a contract to lead England through to the 2017 World Cup.

Bennett, who is yet to announce his backroom team, told BBC Sport: “I am not going to stay as English coach for 20 years – that is not going to happen.

“I want to leave it with people who have a similar philosophy to me.”

Bennett, who will combine the role with leading Brisbane Broncos in the National Rugby League, is not planning wholesale changes to the England set-up.

“I’m very conscious of the English game and England. I am not coming here to teach anyone how to suck eggs,” he added.

“I want as much English involvement as I can. I am bringing two staff with me – one of them is an Englishman – and the other is involved in the tactical side. Everyone else will be English.”

Former St Helens full-back Paul Wellens, who has taken up a player performance coaching role with Saints, was one of McNamara’s backroom staff.

Discipline and dislikes

Bennett has remained a stony-faced touchline presence in Australia’s NRL during a top-level career that has spanned 27 years, three different clubs and a record seven Grand Final victories.


Wayne Bennett (left) cracks a rare smile as he celebrates winning the 2010 NRL title with St George Illawarra Dragons captain Ben Hornby

He says his persona reflects one of the demands he will make of England’s players.

“I might be smiling on the inside, I might be pretty twisted on the inside, but I am not there to please anyone else but myself,” he said.

“I taught myself a long time ago to be extremely disciplined with my behaviour in the public spotlight and I expect my players to be the same.”

Bennett said he would not shirk from the difficult decisions and disagreements that are inevitable when running a top team.

“I don’t want them to dislike me, but you are dealing with people and there will always be issues because people take positions on things,” he said.

“The bottom line is that if I have to make a hard decision for the benefit of the team and it upsets people, I’m fine with that.”

Aussie and over here

Bennett’s appointment means – with Eddie Jones in rugby union and Trevor Bayliss in cricket – Australians are in charge of three of England’s major national teams.

Bennett believes work ethic and a willingness to share ideas across sport are one of the strengths of Australian coaching culture.

“There is one common denominator: we are a pretty committed bunch and to coach you have to be committed,” he said.

“We share a lot of ideas between sports back home, it is not something we hold back on.”


BBC Sport’s Simon Stone:

Wayne Bennett’s seven Grand Final wins make him the most decorated Australian coach ever. And his determination to succeed is not confined to the rugby field.

“My daughter has barred me from playing with my grandchildren,” he said. “They want to win and so do I, so we get into fights. I can’t help it. It is just who I am.”

Bennett has no intention of reigning himself in.

“I don’t want to stop myself,” he said. “I want to do my best and I want to win, whether it is cards or whatever it is. I have been like that all my life.

“In fact I make people stay until I win at cards.”

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