Williams sweating on England spot

George Williams
George Williams

Warriors star George Williams faces an anxious wait to discover if he’ll retain his England place for this weekend’s crunch Four Nations clash against Australia after coach Wayne Bennett hinted Gareth Widdop will be recalled.

Williams replaced Widdop, who plays in the NRL for St George-Illawarra, for last weekend’s win over Scotland, and picked up the man-of-the-match award alongside Castleford half-back Luke Gale. However, it looks to be a shoot-out between Williams and Gale to partner Widdop, with Bennett seemingly intent on shuffling his pack again.

On the merits of Widdop, Bennett said: “He’s played 20-odd Tests so he brings a fair bit to the team. That’s part of the decision I have to make.

“They all understood why they were left out last week.

“It wasn’t about form or anything else, it was about giving other players opportunities to play and make them feel their month has been worthwhile, which is important as well.

“They’ve all had a game now which is important to me, that they’ve all had a run.”

Bennett acknowledged the partnership between Williams and Gale had shown good signs ‘at times’, but stopped short of assuring either they would be involved.

He did confirm former St Helens prop James Graham would definitely start after missing the win over the Scots at Coventry with a knee injyry

The veteran coach delivered an intruguing response when asked whether the England players possessed the self-belief to overcome his countrymen and book their place in the final.

“That’s a good question,” he repiled. “I don’t know, but we’re going to find out.

“There’s lots of fallacies in what we do, and that’s a fallacy – how do you tell if someone has self-belief? They could talk tough and look tough but not play tough. It’s like losing – how do you tell if someone’s a good loser or a bad loser?”

Bennett also defended his conduct in interviews before and after games, which has led to criticism in some quarters.

“I’m a football coach, that’s what I am,” he added. “My job is to get get the best out of those players and give you the best entertainment they possibly can.

“When that’s in place, what you say away from the game is really immaterial. That’s been my philosophy all my coaching life.

“My players and my teams are my priority and always will be. I’m not interested in cheap talk, and I’m not interested in thinking I can promote the game by something I say.”