This week has seen news break that England’s Australian coach Wayne Bennett has signed a two year extension to his deal to remain as coach of the national team which sees him become a likely candidate to lead a reformed Lions team Down Under next year. He doesn’t, however, seem likely to still be at the helm come the next World Cup in 2021 when he will be 71 years old.
There were suggestions that the RFL were hoping to integrate a future first team coach into Bennett’s coaching staff for the next two years before that man became the head of the team in his own right but, this week, the leading candidate has seemingly distanced himself from that position. The man in question was likely to be Castleford’s Daryl Powell but it now seems likely that he is more inclined to focus on ensuring the Tigers build upon their dazzling 2017 campaign. Perhaps that is a good thing for both the team and coaches as there are clear differences between the playing styles and philosophies the two prefer with Powell favouring a more open, creative approach in contrast to benefits desire for error free rugby. RFL Director of Rugby Kevin SInfield, however, is aware of the need to embrace a more expansive style of rugby, explaining that “we didn’t ask enough questions, we didn’t create enough chaos” in reference to the World Cup final against Australia.
He did, however, speak of desire for Bennett to continue, adding that “Wayne is hungry and he really wants to succeed for England and he cares so much for the players.” It is thought that Powell does remain in England’s future plans – perhaps beyond Bennett – but the fact he is believed to have declined a role as part of the staff this time around suggests that Widnes’ Denis Betts may well remain as the Australians second in command for the time being.