New national coach Bennett may turn to Powell for help

Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. (Picture: Gerald Webster)
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. (Picture: Gerald Webster)
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CASTLEFORD TIGERS coach Daryl Powell says he will “consider” taking the role if he is asked to join England’s backroom staff.

New coach Wayne Bennett is expected to appoint a Super League-based assistant after replacing the long-serving Steve McNamara on a two-year contract.

Bennett, 66, is Australian rugby league’s most successful coach, but will remain in charge of Brisbane Broncos and take the England job on a part-time basis. RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: “We will be discussing with Wayne in due course the coaching support he will need, which we expect will be UK-based.”

Powell has turned Castleford from strugglers into Super League title contenders and is certain to feature in Bennett’s thinking, alongside the likes of Wigan Warriors’ Shaun Wane and Keiron Cunningham, of St Helens. Leeds Rhinos’ treble-winning coach Brian McDermott could also be a contender, but was appointed USA team chief last year and has guided them to qualification for next autumn’s World Cup.

Powell said: “It is not something I have thought about, but I think it (appointing an assistant based in England) will be a wise thing to do. There’s quite a few excellent candidates in the British game and I am sure Wayne will have links with some of them already. If approached, you always consider things like that, but at the moment I am just focusing on what I am doing at Castleford.”

Bennett has coached teams to a record seven Grand Final wins in Australia and has also been in charge of Queensland and the Kangaroos and was assistant to Stephen Kearney when New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup. His contract covers the 2016 Four Nations and next year’s showpiece and Powell said: “His record speaks for itself.

“He is an outstanding candidate and he has been a superb coach for a number of years.

“I have had the pleasure of his company in the past and he is a very intelligent man who knows the game of rugby league inside out.

“From that perspective, he will be outstanding in the role.”

The Castleford coach feels having input from a coach with a close connection to the English competition is essential. He added: “Getting someone based in this country is really important to make sure the best players take the field at the end of the season.”

Bennett, who had a spell as a player at Huddersfield in 1972, will be in England later this month when Brisbane face Wigan Warriors in the World Club Series said: “I am very excited by the challenge of taking England on to the next level. From what I have seen, I have been impressed by the ambition and energy demonstrated by the team and I look forward to working with a group of players I believe have what it takes to succeed on the international stage.”

McNamara, a former player with Hull and Bradford Bulls and ex-Bradford coach, had been in charge of England since 2010. His contract expired after last November’s Test series win over New Zealand.

Wood said: “Steve McNamara has been the longest-serving national coach in our history and it is undoubtedly the case that the national team and set up have moved on considerably under Steve’s leadership.”