LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott has confirmed he would like to coach England – if he is asked.
McDermott – the most successful coach in Rhinos’ and Super League’s history – will be a leading contender should Wayne Bennett step aside.
The four-time Grand Final winner said he would be interested if the England job came up and he was approached, but stressed he will not “chase” the position.
McDermott, who coached the United States during the recent World Cup, feels he could combine a part-time role in charge of England with his duties at Leeds.
The RFL are keen for Bennett – who is also coach of Brisbane Broncos – to continue with England after guiding them to this month’s World Cup final in Australia.
The 67-year-old is expected to make a decision early next year, but asked if he would consider coaching England if he was approached, McDermott said: “Yes.”
If it becomes available and I get a phone call I’m certainly up for that.Leeds Rhinos’ head coach, Brian McDermott
He insisted speculation over the national role will not distract him from preparations for Rhinos’ title defence next year.
“I am cool, I am at ease with coaching Leeds,” McDermott said.
“I love coaching Leeds and at no stage would I ever chase that [England] job.
“I don’t think it’s a job you chase and I wouldn’t want the job at any expense, either.
“If I was to do the job I’d want to do it my way, which won’t be too radical, but I am just trying to make a point that I am not going to get veered off the track to go chase the England job. If it becomes available and I get a phone call I’m certainly up for that.”
Bennett is out of contract after two years as England coach.
His reign has divided opinion among fans and pundits, but players and the governing body have backed him and McDermott stated: “I think they have got a good bloke in charge at the moment.
“I think they had a good bloke in charge [Steve McNamara] before Wayne Bennett as well - so whatever really.”
Daryl Powell - whose Castleford Tigers side topped the Super League table this year, but were beaten by Rhinos in the Grand Final - has also said he would be “interested” in the England position.
Both men would be keen to continue in their club role and McDermott revealed his World Cup experience has convinced him it is possible to combine two jobs.
United States were heavily beaten in all their three group games, but McDermott felt it was a valuable experience for a squad made up mainly of players from the American domestic competition.
“The international coaching bit, I liked,” said the Leeds boss, who added he has not ruled out staying with the Hawks for the next World Cup in four years’ time.
“It is a different version of coaching.
“I think some of the choices you’ve got to make as an international coach are about what you can do with the players over a short space of time.
“There were some challenges to it, but if you are asking could you be a full-time Super League coach and an international coach part-time, of course you can, yes.”