Veteran Australian Wayne Bennett agrees new two-year deal as England head coach

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Australian Wayne Bennett is to continue as England head coach and will also lead the revived British Lions in 2019.

The 68-year-old’s two-year contract with the Rugby Football League ran out after he guided England to the final of the 2017 World Cup but he has agreed a new two-year deal after being persuaded to stay on in the job.

The length of Bennett’s new contract suggests he will not lead England into the next World Cup in 2021, when he will be 71.

It is thought Castleford coach Daryl Powell has been sounded out as a possible successor to Bennett but currently prefers to focus on his job with his club, who have made a disappointing start to the new Super League season.

Bennett’s re-appointment follows a recommendation from rugby director Kevin Sinfield, the former Leeds and England captain who conducted a review into the national team’s performance at the World Cup.

Bennett, who succeeded Steve McNamara two years ago on a part-time basis while continuing his day job with Brisbane Broncos, declined to discuss his future in the immediate aftermath of December’s final.

However, the former Australia and Queensland coach won many admirers for the way he turned England into a competitive force after a dismal 2016 Four Nations, guiding them to a first World Cup final for 22 years, and to a man the players expressed their support for his continued involvement.

“I want to continue that journey because I firmly believe we can achieve something special together.

“It’s a pleasure to coach this squad because everyone wants to do their best for one another and do their job properly.

Wayne Bennett led England to the 2017 World Cup final
Wayne Bennett led England to the 2017 World Cup final (Grant Trouville/PA)

“There’s plenty of work to be done and club fixtures to be played between now and the New Zealand games – everyone is aware of what is required of them to join the England programme.”

Bennett, who assisted Stephen Kearney when New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup, will now go up against the Kiwis in the proposed mid-summer international in Denver and the end-of-season three-match Test series in the UK.

The Test match in Colorado, pencilled in for Saturday, June 23, is expected to be confirmed later this week by Australian promoter Jason Moore, who wants to use the game to build up interest ahead of the 2025 World Cup which will be hosted by the United States.

Denis Betts' future is unclear
Denis Betts’ future is unclear (Martin Rickett/PA)

The appointment of an Australian as head of the Lions is sure to stir some controversy.

The future of Widnes coach Denis Betts, who was number two to Bennett in the World Cup, is unclear but the RFL has appointed former Huddersfield boss Paul Anderson – another of Bennett’s assistants – as coach of the re-formed England Knights, who are expected to play in a Six Nations tournament at the end of the campaign.

Other coaching appointments announced on Monday are Craig Richards (England Women), Mark Roughsedge (England Wheelchair), Dave Elliott (England Academy) and Danny Wilson (England Youth).

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