Wayne Bennett looks likely to remain England head coach beyond this year’s World Cup after organising a mid-season Test against New Zealand from 2018.
Beginning next season, England will play the Kiwis in an annual mid-season Test on the same weekend as the stand-alone State of Origin II match, which will take place on a Sunday.
After the success of England’s Pacific Test against Samoa earlier this month, Bennett told a press conference in Auckland that his team will face the Kiwis from 2018.
Bennett’s current England deal expires after this year’s World Cup but it now looks likely the veteran Australian coach will remain in charge with plans made further ahead.
“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.”
Speaking on the official 2017 Rugby League World Cup website, Bennett is also wary of the threat posed at this year’s competition by nations other than Australia and New Zealand.
“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.”