In Bennett Poms have rightfully put trust

Wayne Bennett will coach England later this year at the Four Nations competition.
Wayne Bennett will coach England later this year at the Four Nations competition. Rob Williams

Belief is a powerful emotion, and the reaction to a press conference in England on Friday suggests the Poms believe Wayne Bennett to be their messiah.

Bennett's appointment as coach of England for the 2016 Four Nations tournament and the 2017 World Cup is a stroke of genius from the English hierarchy.

Not only have they grabbed the "winningest" coach in Australian rugby league history, but someone with a reputation that far outstrips anyone else who was in the running.

Such is the euphoria among the rugby league fraternity in England over Bennett's appointment that his press conference, plus a one-on-one interview, went live on Sky Sports. And with good reason, because the undeniable fact is that in a top-class coaching career spanning almost four decades, Wayne Bennett has established an almost infallible status.

No better example of the power of this rampant belief came at Red Hill last season.

Bennett returned to the Broncos after a six-season sabbatical at the Dragons and Knights to find a club that was high on ability, yet way down on belief. A long-held Broncos aura, established by Bennett, had slipped away.

The returning coach claimed he had no magic potion or long-term plan. And while he was as excited and as determined as he was back in 1987 when he assumed the reins of the then-fledgling club, he told fans not to expect overnight miracles.

But miracles were obviously what the players did anticipate, and they went within seconds of a seventh Broncos premiership.

And they did it with a team that had very few changes from the one that had stumbled into the finals the previous year on the back of seven losses from its final 11 games.

Sure, Bennett's reputation had heralded him, and because of that, everyone on the Broncos roster believed he would become a better player under the new coaching regime. But there was no obvious evidence of any brilliant coaching strategy, although defence certainly became a priority.

And that's what will happen with England. Every player who thinks he's a chance of making the Four Nations tournament at the end of the year will now be chomping at the bit in anticipation of being coached by the guru. They too will believe Bennett can take their game to the next level.

To those who think Bennett is a turncoat for coaching against Australia, open your eyes.

Professional sport is now big business, not a leisure activity. The English cricket and rugby union teams are both coached by expat Aussies.

Like Wayne Bennett, I want international rugby league to return to the days when every Test was a ding-dong battle.

And I believe Bennett can help make that happen.



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