Great Britain head coach Wayne Bennett sees international game getting stronger after whitewash
By PA Media
Last Updated: 16/11/19 12:08pm
Wayne Bennett believes Great Britain's whitewash on their tour of the Southern Hemisphere demonstrates the rising standards of international rugby league.
The eagerly-awaited return of the Lions after a 12-year absence turned into a huge anti-climax as they suffered defeat in all four matches on the first tour for 23 years.
Beaten in their opening game by the Tonga Invitational XIII, Britain then suffered a two-Test series defeat by the Kiwis and were humiliated 28-10 by Papua New Guinea on Saturday.
Yet Bennett, whose contract with the Rugby Football League is now up, was able to take positives from the tour despite having a bitter pill to swallow.
"You all need to have a good look at what's happened with the international game over the last five or six years," Bennett said. "They're playing more Test matches and more competitions and you're starting to see the benefits of it.
"You've seen the emergence of Tonga, you've seen how much Papua New Guinea has improved and Samoa are much improved. The boys all want to play for their country now.
"So, while we've got to swallow a bitter pill as Great Britain, on the other side of the ledger I see the game getting stronger.
"You all need to have a good look at what's happened with the international game over the last five or six years. They're playing more Test matches and more competitions and you're starting to see the benefits of it."
"If I look at that side of it, I'm pleased with it. If I look at our performance, I'm disappointed we under-achieved. We didn't have a great tour. We had some great moments but not a great tour."
The RFL will conduct a wide-ranging review before deciding whether to renew Bennett's contract for England's 2020 Ashes Series and the 2021 World Cup.
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer insisted in the build-up to the clash with Papua New Guinea there will be no knee-jerk decisions on the Australian's future and the man himself still has the appetite to continue the job he began in 2016 as well.
"I don't think anyone can say I haven't got that," Bennett, who turns 70 on New Year's Day, said. "I don't think I show any of that anyway, that I don't have the appetite for it.
"But it's not my decision now. I'll talk to some people and see what's going on and take it from there. My contract is up now, so I'll just wait and see and have some discussions.
"But tonight is not a good night to make decisions - you're emotional and not in a good place, coaching has taught me that much. You don't make decisions within 24 hours and after Grand Finals after about six weeks."
Bennett also wants England to play more matches after claiming the lack of a mid-season Test and limited preparation for the Lions tour were partly to blame for the disappointing outcome of this winter's tour.
"We missed the mid-year Test this year," Bennett said. "We need to play in that, that's where these guys are getting all their improvements from.
"Australia come in with an Origin Series behind them, New Zealand come in to play us after they've played Australia at the end of the season. Everyone is doing more preparation than we are.
"If we want to compete with them, we've got to get ourselves back to that level."