Bennett: Sticking with Lockers was easy

WAYNE Bennett said it was an easy decision to stick with Sean O'Loughlin as his England captain.
Sean O'LoughlinSean O'Loughlin
Sean O'Loughlin

The veteran Australian used his first press conference as national coach yesterday to confirm O’Loughlin, 33, will continue to lead the side.

His admission came on the eve of Wigan’s World Club Series showdown with Bennett’s Brisbane side tomorrow night.

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“He’s highly respected from all the players and all the feedback I get is that,” said Bennett.

“I’m not going to change something that’s working. It wasn’t a big decision.”

Bennett confirmed he was planning to appoint an assistant coach from the Super League ranks. Of the leading contenders, Warriors boss Shaun Wane has strong credentials.

“I’ve got plenty in mind, I’m not going to share with you,” he said. “But I’ve not spoken to anyone yet.”

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Bennett said he admired England’s “gutsy” performance in their 2-1 series triumph against New Zealand last autumn, but is convinced they can play better.

And he is unclear who is best-placed to fill the No.7 shirt - an admission which impacts on both of Wigan’s halfbacks.

Previous coach Steve McNamara started last series with Williams partnering St George Illawarra’s Gareth Widdop, but dropped him for the third Test and reinstated Matty Smith, who had the role in 2014.

He added: “There’s a strong pack and there’s quite an accomplished backline, especially with Sam Tomkins coming back. The half? That’s maybe a little bit up in the air, because in the last series you had Matty Smith going into the third game, so I need to get my head around who the best halfback is for England, and making sure he plays and knows I support him and trust him.”