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RFL considering offering Wayne Bennett new contract despite winless Great Britain tour

Ross Heppenstall
Wayne Bennett's previous contract with the governing body has expired  - Getty Images AsiaPac

Wayne Bennett is likely to be handed a new contract by the Rugby Football League despite presiding over Great Britain’s disastrous southern hemisphere tour.​

The veteran Australian, universally regarded as one of the all-time greatest coaches, has been employed as England coach for the past four years.​

He was tasked with leading Great Britain in their recent four-match tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, which resulted in four straight defeats, and his contract with the governing body has now expired.​

Bennett came under heavy fire for his squad selection and apparent failure to differentiate between Great Britain, a once iconic brand revived after 12 years in hibernation, and England.​

Nevertheless, the 69-year-old has frequently voiced his desire to lead England into next year’s Ashes series against Australia and 2021 World Cup, both on home soil.​

Asked whether Bennett could be awarded a new deal, RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “Most certainly – we shouldn’t forget what he’s done.​

“Yes, we’ve had a poor year on the field and we’re all hurting – including the players and coaches.​

Bennett wants to lead England into next year’s Ashes series against Australia and 2021 World Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES

“But until this point, we have progressed really well. We have put a challenging, difficult international programme together and I don’t regret doing that at all.”​

A review of Great Britain’s failure is being conducted by Rimmer and the RFL’s rugby director, Kevin Sinfield, and a decision on the England job will be made thereafter.​

Rimmer said: “In terms of the two brands, the review is taking place and it will take care of all aspects of the tour.​

“It didn’t go as planned on the field but many other things went very well.​

“It’s important the review is considered and reactionary. We’re hurt a little but we need to take the objective view. ​

“Some aspects we are disappointed in, others not so much, but there will be a great deal of consultation and Wayne’s role is a part of that. ​

“It’s going to be a considered piece of work that will get us to a good place.”​

Former Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane, currently employed by the Scottish Rugby Union, and Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell have been touted as potential successors to Bennett.​

Bennett, though, remains popular with his players and guided England to the 2017 World Cup final against Australia, where they lost 6-0 in Brisbane, and orchestrated three wins from four Test matches against New Zealand last year.​

Rimmer, who said Sinfield’s position was not under any threat, added: “There’s plenty of coaching talent out there. ​

“That doesn’t mean Wayne’s position is either weakened or strengthened, however. He wants to stay on.”​

Bennett lamented the absence of a mid-season Test this year but talks are under way to ensure there is one ahead of the 2020 Ashes series and it will be away from home.​

Rimmer said: “The intention is to have a midseason Test. We’re in dialogue at this moment in time.”​

The RFL supremo said the prospect of Australia playing midweek games against Super League sides during next year’s Ashes series was “still under discussion”.