Luke Gale leads calls for Wayne Bennett to stay on with England
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 30/11/17 11:08pm
England players are keen to see Wayne Bennett remain as head coach regardless of the outcome of Saturday's World Cup final against Australia.
The 67-year-old Australian has guided England to their first final for 22 years but is out of contract at the end of the tournament and has yet to give an indication of whether he would like to stay.
The taciturn 67-year-old has proved to be highly popular among the England players.
"I love him," said scrum-half Luke Gale. "I think he's a great bloke. The lads love him and his company.
"He does the camp thing really well. We've been seven or eight weeks now, he's obviously been involved in a lot of camps, be it Origin, New Zealand. He just gets it. He does it really well.
"He gets you nice and relaxed, gets you happy. I couldn't speak highly enough about him. There is always a good mood in the camp, lots of laughing and jokes.
"If you are not doing your job, he will tell you, but he is open and honest and that's why blokes respect him so much. He doesn't pull any punches.
"We'll get Saturday out of the way and hopefully a positive result and see what happens."
Bennett is the most successful coach in the Australian domestic game and won five of seven State of Origin series in charge of Queensland. He is also widely credited for helping New Zealand upset Australia in the 2008 World Cup final as
right-hand man to Stephen Kearney.
Full-back Gareth Widdop, who knows the Brisbane boss from his spells in the NRL with Melbourne and St George Illawarra, said: "He's a great coach.
"He's been around the game a long time. He knows how to get the best out of players and we've certainly improved as a team.
"He's taken us to a World Cup final, it's been 22 years. He's obviously doing something right. I'm sure there'll be some decisions after the game."
Centre Kallum Watkins, who produced one of his best performances for England in their nerve-jangling semi-final win over Tonga, says the players appreciate Bennett's calm approach.
"He doesn't scream or shout but he lets you know his opinions and that's how a lot of players like it," Watkins said. "As a team we're improving game by game and it's paying off."
England will go into the final as firm underdogs against an Australia team who have yet to lose under Mal Meninga.
But Gale says they will draw encouragement from the opening game of the tournament, which was in the balance until the Kangaroos scored eight points in the last five minutes to secure an 18-4 success.
"They are a great side, we are under no illusions," Gale said. "It is going to be a tough night. But we broke them down a few times on the opening night and hopefully we can do the same again.
"Every time you step onto the field, you think you can get one over on the opposition. We are ready."