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England keep the faith in Wayne Bennett

Press AssociationPress Association 14/11/2016 By Ian Laybourn

Widnes captain Kevin Brown insists Wayne Bennett is still the man to turn England into world-beaters despite their failure to reach the final of the Four Nations.

An emphatic 36-18 defeat by Australia at London Stadium on Sunday, which followed an opening 17-16 loss to New Zealand, left England packing their bags as the Kiwis and Kangaroos prepare to contest Sunday's final at Anfield.

Twelve months after Bennett's predecessor Steve McNamara guided England to a 2-1 Test series win over New Zealand, it has been suggested the national team have gone backwards under the veteran Australian but Brown says he retains the confidence of the players.

"He's unbelievable, like no coach I've had before," said Brown, who was recalled by Bennett from six years in the international wilderness after an outstanding season with his club.

"He's just so intense. He demands certain levels and he tells you when you're not living up to those expectations, regardless of who you are or what you've done in the past.

"You don't have any credit and if you're not playing well, he'll tell you.

"He's the best coach in the world. His record speaks for itself, so I've got total belief that he's the man and I believe in that team as well."

Scotland had forced open the door to the final for England with their 18-18 draw against New Zealand on Friday night and for half an hour Bennett's men suggested they might be capable of going through it.

They led through Jermaine McGillvary's 26th-minute try but were gradually worn down before the Kangaroos turned on the style to run in five second-half tries.

"For large periods of the game I really did believe we were going to come away and win the game," Brown said.

"There were just a few key things. We missed touch a couple of times, dropped the ball when we had the chance to go over the line.

"That was probably the difference, it was disappointing at the end. You can't afford to be sloppy. You saw how clinical they were.

"We got a lot of belief out of the game and Wayne's said we're very, very close. I know everyone keeps saying that, but we are close."

Brown, 32, was one of four half-backs named in Bennett's initial 19-man squad and got the nod to form a third new half-back pairing in as many matches with Gareth Widdop after the coach lost patience with Castleford half Luke Gale.

Yet Brown says he had been given little time to get his head around facing Australia for the first time and had barely trained with the starting team before it was announced.

"It was a bit like straight in at the deep end," he said. "I hadn't trained much with the team.

"They wanted a bit of experience and a louder voice so he gave me the nod. He didn't tee me up, he just put me in when he named his team."

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