DISAPPOINTED ENGLAND boss Wayne Bennett has called for more games against top-quality opposition.
“We do need to play more internationals,” Bennett said after yesterday’s 36-18 defeat to Australia ended England’s involvement in the Ladbrokes Four Nations. “The Australians have got such an advantage because of State of Origin. All the things you see from them, they learn from the environment they play in. England doesn’t have that. We need to play more Australian games and more against the Kiwis so we can hone our skills and get better under pressure.”
New Zealand will face Australia in Sunday’s final at Anfield. England lost to New Zealand and Australia either side of a win over tournament minnows Scotland and Bennett blamed their exit on poor execution.
He said: “In the context of the game we competed great, we just don’t execute enough.”
Bennett fielded his third different half-back combination in as many games, dropping Luke Gale and calling up Kevin Brown and Gareth Widdop, with George Williams on the bench.
“The half-backs were not the problem,” insisted Bennett, who said he is still “experimenting” with his pivots. [The problem was] our inability to continually maintain pressure and execute well enough. We didn’t find the sideline [with penalty kicks] on two occasions, which is pretty important when you are playing the best team in the world.
“Then there’s the stupid penalties we continually give away when we’ve done something really good. You can’t do that against quality teams. I saw the same guys doing the same thing in their club football. They can get away with it at that level, but not at this level.
“That’s the difference – not commitment or effort or guys trying hard or guys with good skills. We scored a couple of wonderful tries and we defended at times really well.
“It is all there, but they have got to clean their act up with some things. They have got to understand what beats them.
“They think the opposition beats them, but they don’t.”
Bennett believes England are “very capable of being a lot better than they are now”. He proclaimed: “They are a lot closer than all of you in this [press] room probably realise.”