Rugby League Expert & Columnist
New England coach Wayne Bennett is a Rugby League guru, says Stevo
Last Updated: 02/02/16 4:13pm
The Rugby Football League has made a canny decision to appoint 'guru' Wayne Bennett, Sky Sports pundit Stevo writes...
Steve McNamara's England may have beaten New Zealand in the series at the end of last year, but for me it wasn't the best New Zealand side we've seen so it didn't surprise me to see him let go.
With the greatest respect England have ended the tenure of a coach who hasn't won a trophy, and replaced him with someone who has won many, which can only be a good thing.
About four or five years ago the RFL wanted Bennett but at the time he said he would prefer to stay in Brisbane, however they've now got their man and it's an appointment that I am fully behind.
"There are some who will say that he shouldn't be combining his duties with the Broncos with his England role, but the RFL made it clear that they were happy for McNamara to do the same so it's no different for Bennett really."
Bennett is a coach who is frankly a guru of the sport who is revered the world over. Despite this he's a very modest person; a rugby league man through and through.
His strength as a coach is his ability to get the best out of players. Some coaches make the mistake of finding a player then trying to make him something different.
I've always been a firm believer that you don't try to change the way someone plays the game. If someone plays the game aggressively then allow them to do that. You can't change him, so just get the best out of the way he plays the game.
Likewise if a player is likely to take risks then there's no point asking him to play a conservative style. Bennett is the kind of leader who will pick players and give them the freedom to play the way they would like to.
Another factor he will bring to the England team is his temperament, which will give confidence to the young players. He will be able to lift players who perhaps just need that little bit of confidence to take the next step.
When you start playing for your country you're naturally a bit nervous. You don't want to make a fool of yourself and there's always that anticipation of whether or not you're going to fit in, because it's a huge step from club level to international. Bennett will help those players to get their head in the right place while they are in the camp and on the field.
There are some who will say that he shouldn't be combining his duties with the Broncos with his England role, but the RFL made it clear that they were happy for McNamara to do the same so it's no different for Bennett really.
In any case, if you want the best you've got to do whatever it takes to get him in. England want to have the best players, and with that comes a need to have the best coach. If this is what needs to be done in order to have a coach of the stature of Bennett in the fold, then it's a very good move by the RFL.
I for one am looking forward to England taking Australia apart in the future, and who better to lead England in doing that than of their own!