Great Britain return confirmed with Wayne Bennett as head coach

It has been confirmed that Great Britain will return this autumn with a four-match tour of the Southern Hemisphere.

England head coach Wayne Bennett will lead the Lions against New Zealand twice, Papua New Guinea and Tonga – with full details of the schedule to be released in Auckland tonight.

Great Britain have not played since 2007 and have not toured since 2006, when they produced a heroic performance to beat Australia in the Tri-Series.

The historic GB brand will be welcomed back by many and further details of Bennett’s support staff, the squad selection process and kit design are to be revealed in due course.

Speaking on his appointment as coach, Bennett said: “It’s an honour to be involved in the revival of the Great Britain team as head coach.

“I’ve coached against them in the past with Australia, and wherever you’re from in the world of Rugby League, that Great Britain jersey is a famous one – and I’m sure the current generation of players will be excited by the prospect of wearing it and representing their country in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

“It’s an exciting prospect for international Rugby League, and good to have that Great Britain tradition back.”

Bennett will be able to choose players with England, Scottish, Welsh and Irish heritage – increasing the player pool options for the Australian coach.

Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time – so this is an exciting announcement for us.

“It’s 12 years since Great Britain last played a Test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006.

“While the development of the England Performance Unit has been a priority and a success for the RFL, across Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League – and will continue to be as we build towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup – there is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt.

“It’s great for the game to have it back, as part of the schedule drawn up by the RLIF also including the Oceania Cup. We’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition as we build up to the tour through 2019.”

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