'Angry' Wayne Bennett laments England's lack of self-belief


London (AFP)

Coach Wayne Bennett says a lack of self-belief is preventing England from competing with Australia and New Zealand, the world's leading international rugby league teams.

Tournament hosts England's 36-18 defeat to Australia at London's Olympic Stadium on Sunday saw them fail to qualify for the Four Nations final, which will be contested by the Kangaroos and the Kiwis in Liverpool on Sunday.

England, or Great Britain as they were known, have not won the Rugby League World Cup since 1972 and it is more than 10 years since they last beat Australia.

The last three World Cup finals have been Australia-New Zealand encounters and, despite his side being one of the sport's traditional powers, it looks like Bennett will have his work cut out to end that sequence at next year's edition in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Bennett, 66, said England "self-destructed" on Sunday, telling the BBC: "Right now they don't believe. They just have to realise how good they can be, they don't get that part unfortunately."

England, who needed to avoid defeat to reach the Four Nations final following Scotland's shock draw with New Zealand, led 6-2 after 30 minutes against the Kangaroos.

Yet by midway through the second half they were 28-6 behind and the match ended with England having conceded six tries in total.

"They have to recognise what is beating them," said Bennett, who saw England open the tournament with a 17-16 loss to New Zealand.

"They have got to fix it in their daily habits and they have got 12 months before the World Cup to fix it.

"There's lots of talent, they can play, the problem is that they have to learn to compete at this level under pressure."

But Bennett, in his first tournament as England coach, was adamant his side were not that far adrift of their Antipodean rivals.

"I have enjoyed being with the players immensely," he said. "It makes me more frustrated than ever, angry even in my case, because they are not showing how good they can be.

"They are not that far behind. I cannot fault them off the field, they have just got to get it right on the field.

"They are very capable and a better team than a lot of people realise. I thought there would have been a lot more issues when I took charge."