Bennett axing queried by former assistant

Ian Laybourn
The sacking of Wayne Bennett by England has been questioned by his former No.2 Ian Watson

Wayne Bennett's former assistant Ian Watson says the seven-time premiership-winning coach should have been given the chance to take England into the 2021 World Cup.

Bennett guided England to the final in 2017 but his contract with the Rugby Football League ran out after the disastrous Great Britain tour in the autumn and he was this week replaced by former Wigan boss Shaun Wane.

Watson, who was one of two assistants to Bennett on the Lions tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, said: "It's a good move for Shaun - he's a good coach.

"He's won championship after championship and he's been in a high-performance environment at Scotland (rugby union), so he knows how it all works in terms of a different sport.

"He'll be well-positioned to come into the head coaching position.

"I feel a bit for Wayne. I think he did a great job and got England to the World Cup final and should have been given the opportunity to take that forward and see if he could finish the job.

"His aim at the end of the day was to win a World Cup final and we felt he was on course to do that. I feel for him a little bit - but I think Shaun is a good appointment."

Wane has yet to select the rest of his backroom staff and Watson is keen to remain involved in the national set-up.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "England did have their own backroom team when Wayne was there and, whether he would have kept that set-up, I don't know.

"You want to be involved at the top end of the game, working with those players and it's something I'd definitely look at, but that's a decision for Shaun, not for me."