Bennett still ‘engaged’ with England

John Bateman during training in the Four Nations
John Bateman during training in the Four Nations

England head coach Wayne Bennett remains undaunted by the loss of his proposed warm weather training camp.

Bennett sought to hone England’s preparations for the end-of-year World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with a trip to Dubai in early January for the cream of his Super League-based players, and then a Test match in Sydney in May.

The Rugby Football League is set to confirm a mid-season international against Samoa but cancelled the training camp following pressure from club coaches concerned over the disruption it would cause to their preparations for the new Super League season.

Bennett has not commented on the latest development but his assistant, Widnes head coach Denis Betts, has been in regular contact and insists the veteran Australian remains as passionate as ever about the job.

“He’s massively engaged,” Betts said. “He wants this to work. He knows about the politics and all that goes around it, he understands that he can’t control that.

“His whole philosophy is, if we carry on doing what we’ve done, we’ll end up with the same situation. He wanted to do something different, he wanted to give something different to the players, he wanted to try and mix it up a little bit.”

If we carry on doing what we’ve done, we’ll end up with the same situation

Denis Betts

Bennett, who made a disappointing start to his reign by failing to steer England to the 2016 Four Nations final, has a two-year contract that runs out after this year’s World Cup but Betts says the Brisbane Broncos boss is already looking ahead to the next one in England in 2021.

“He wants to win but I think what the Four Nations gave us was an understanding of what it takes to win a World Cup,” Betts said.

“We know when the next World Cup is and how can we manipulate our domestic season to give us the best opportunity, especially when it’s in this country, so that we’ve got the best players in the best shape to be able to go after it. And we can plan that now if we’re smart.

“He wanted to change the way we approach this World Cup but he came in at a time when everything was already written down.”

Betts, who is set to meet up with Bennett when he brings his Broncos team to England in February for the World Club Series, says he has improved as a coach from being around the famous Australian, who made history by guiding Brisbane to six Premiership titles.

“He’s a fantastic bloke,” Betts added. “He invests in people and cares about them being better. The players love him.

“Am I a better coach from being around Wayne? Of course I am. Am I a better coach for working with Sam Burgess and James Graham? Of course I am.

“Wayne’s got the credibility and an understanding of what the game is. That’s what I got out out of it, a real sense of moving in the right direction.”

Betts says England will select a train-on squad for a get-together ahead of the game against Samoa.