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Bennett set to remain England league coach

Press Association logoPress Association 26/05/2017 Ian Laybourn

Brisbane NRL coach Wayne Bennett has delivered a strong hint that he intends to continue on as England mentor after the 2017 Rugby League World Cup by outlining plans for next year and beyond.

Bennett, 67, whose initial two-year contract expires at the end of the season, has revealed England will play New Zealand in an annual mid-season Test on the same weekend as the stand-alone State of Origin match, beginning next season.

It followed a Rugby League International Federation decision to extend this year's representative weekend when England played a one-off international against Samoa in Sydney.

Bennett, who persuaded the Rugby Football League of the merits of the mid-season Test, despite the considerable disruption it caused to England's Super League, made the latest announcement at a joint 2017 World Cup media conference with Kiwis head coach David Kidwell in Auckland.

"I think the mid-year Test will be a help to us because we play more games as an international team," Bennett said.

"Australia get a huge advantage through the Origin, New Zealand get an advantage because they have been playing the mid-year Tests against Australia on a regular basis and England have got to start to do more of that."

Bennett said he was pleased with England's 30-10 victory Samoa at Campbelltown Stadium and confident they would be contenders to win the World Cup.

He believes other nations will also be stronger because of the new international eligibility rules that enable Brisbane's Anthony Milford (Samoa) and Gold Coast's Jarryd Hayne (Fiji) to represent a tier-two nation if not chosen by any of the big three.

"I think there are going to be some pretty strong teams with quality players in all of the teams and I think the new rules really help that as well," he said.

"If you are not picked for Australia, New Zealand or England, you can go back and play for your country of Origin so I think that is really going to put a lot of quality players in the comp.

"It will be a much stronger World Cup than 2008 was, England was quite a successful World Cup (in 2013) and this one will be the most-successful World Cup. We believe that.

"I think when you get to the semi-final stage, if Australia, New Zealand and England are in the semi-finals, I think the other nation will be quite a challenge because they will have played in a quality competition and they will have to be pretty much at the top of their game as well to get to the semi-final stage."

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