Bennett not worried about Australia result in opener

NRL Week 16 Wrap

England head coach Wayne Bennett says that they will be focusing on their performance rather than the result in their World Cup opener against Australia.

The game against the holders won’t decide England’s fate in the tournament, knowing victory against Lebanon and France in their other two group games should secure a quarter-final place.

Speaking to a membership scheme run by the RFL, Bennett wants to steadily improve as the competition progresses with the hope of beating the Kangaroos at a later date.

“We’re not worried about the result, the emphasis will be on how we play and what we can manage against them, making sure we’re competitive all night,” he said.

“If we get beaten by a few points, well that will give us confidence to go onto the next stage, and if we get to play a final five weeks later, that’s when you want to be at your best.”

The England head coach has come under criticism for his 24-man squad selection after leaving out the likes of Sam Tomkins and George Burgess.

However, Bennett, who also included Chris Heighington and Ben Currie, says he and assistant coaches Denis Betts, Paul Anderson, Paul Sculthorpe and Paul Wellens picked players on form.

“I left George out because I didn’t think he was playing well enough,” said Bennett. “Chris Heighington played pretty well at Cronulla – I like what he brings.

“The four coaches gave me their teams and we were pretty much all on the same page. We’ve got a very good balance, some very experienced players and some on the way up.

“Ben had a pretty ordinary season in one sense because he’s not played many games but we all know what he can bring and I was keen to have him here.”