Four Nations: England coach Wayne Bennett not 'helping to grow game'

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Four Nations: England 38-12 Scotland

England coach Wayne Bennett is not fulfilling his responsibility to help grow the game, says former Great Britain international Iestyn Harris.

Harris told BBC Sport the Australian was "a disgrace" following England's 38-12 Four Nations win over Scotland.

The England coach offered short responses to questions after Saturday's game as well as before the opening defeat to New Zealand last week.

"It was a disgrace last week pre-game and that's just shocking," he said.

"He is the Alex Ferguson of management with his charisma and what he has done in the NRL.

"He has come over here to promote the game of rugby league, to promote it internationally and take it on to another level with his stature. He has got a responsibility to do those types of interviews."

Former Super League winger Jon Wells added: "It's a difficult job to take, it's a difficult time to take the job, but Wayne must know, he understands the lay of the land, England are at a crossroads in terms of what we do with our international game.

"I think that was nothing short of a disgrace. Now he might not be happy with the result, but you have got to front up as a head coach.

"You are an ambassador for a sport in this country and we are trying to get more people watching and listening to this sport."

Wayne Bennett
Australian Wayne Bennett took charge of England in February

Former Great Britain player and coach Brian Noble said he was "not surprised" by the interview Bennett gave.

"Wayne Bennett has got to raise the bar," he told BBC Sport. "They were below the Test match standard that is needed to beat Australia.

"He was brought in to raise expectations and it is just not good enough to get over the line with a win. I don't think they dished that up for him.

"We have seen Scotland get into the competition by right. If they add another couple of players to their squad, they can be a force for sure."

'They've got a bit of thinking to do'

Asked in his interview whether anyone had played themselves out of contention in Saturday's Four Nations victory, Bennett said: "A couple of them probably have, yeah.

"They've got a bit of thinking to do. They need to look at themselves."

England recovered from a slow start to win their first meeting with Scotland and keep their hopes of reaching the Four Nations final alive.

But they must beat Australia to have a chance of making the final at Anfield.

The 66-year-old Australian added: "Just pleased with the win - that is all you can say about it.

"We were bad, we weren't good in the first 20 [minutes]. We got closer to what I expect in the second half. I want them to play to their ability and they were a way off that."

Who will play Australia in the final?

  • England will go through if they beat Australia on Sunday.
  • A draw will also be enough because of their superior points difference over New Zealand.
  • A defeat will see New Zealand reach the final at Anfield on Sunday, 20 November

Players need to have a look at themselves

England lost 17-16 to New Zealand in their tournament opener last Saturday, while Australia beat Scotland 54-12 last Friday.

What do England need to do to improve? "You name it, I'll agree with you," said Bennett. "We weren't good. From how we played last week to this week, there's no comparison.

"There wasn't much to enjoy about that performance. There was no particular reason for the slow start. They might have been reading the papers, thinking they just had to turn up and win."

Elliott Whitehead'
Elliott Whitehead scored two tries for England in the win over Scotland

Penalty count hurts Scots

Scotland coach Steve McCormack said he was "really proud" of his side's efforts.

"We are playing against the best three teams in the world," he added. "We competed for long periods, much better than on Friday, and we expect to be better next week.

"We could have tested England more. The penalty count killed us - that was a big factor. We started the game better and played some good stuff.

"England were good in the second half and showed they can play with the ball but we need to look at the penalty count."

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