Wayne Bennett and Craig Richards will coach the England teams at the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines in Sydney this autumn.
Bennett will lead England in the 12-team men’s tournament at the new Bankwest Stadium, while Richards will coach England Women in a four-team tournament which will be played at the same venue on the same weekend (October 18 and 19).
Bennett will then take charge of the Great Britain squad for the first appearance of the Rugby League Lions in the southern hemisphere since 2006, with a four-match tour including two Tests against New Zealand and one each against Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
The rest of the Great Britain coaching staff will be announced later this year.
The RFL will shortly write to the other Home Nations – Wales, Scotland and Ireland – inviting applications to fill the vacancy left on Bennett’s support staff by the recent move to rugby union of James Lowes, who was a member of the England coaching staff during last autumn’s home series victory over New Zealand. The vacancy will also be advertised, with interviews to be conducted when Bennett is in England in June.
Kevin Sinfield, the RFL’s Rugby Director who heads the England Performance Unit, said: “We’re excited by the prospect of the Downer World Cup Nines in Sydney, and both our men’s and women’s teams are determined to put up a good showing in what promises to be a great occasion for the international game.
“As the head coaches of our men’s and women’s teams, it’s fitting that Wayne and Craig take charge of the England teams in the Nines – and a measure of how seriously we’re taking the tournaments.
“For England Women in particular, it’s an important part of the preparations for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup – and we’re working hard behind the scenes on securing more international competition in the southern hemisphere for the team this autumn.
“The men’s England Performance Squad and Knights Performance Squad had their first get-together of the year in Leeds this week. We noted some questioning why we have named an EPS for 2019 – but continuity is crucial, to build on the successes and progress of 2017 and 2018, and to ensure we continue working towards the privilege and opportunity of hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2021. Players spending time with each other away from the game is vital for all our programmes and has been of huge benefit over the last two years.
“We also believe there is significant value in the EPS meeting with the Knights, stressing the links between the squads, which have been shown by the number of players who have made senior England debuts in the last 12 months.
“In addition to the senior England team playing in the Nines this autumn, the Knights will also be in action, which is important after the success of their tour to Papua New Guinea last year. The plan is for them to play at home, with further details to be confirmed shortly, and we hope Rugby League supporters will be keen to see the Knights for themselves.”
Kevin Sinfield was speaking at the Manchester headquarters of Deloitte, today confirmed as the Official Professional Services Partner of RLWC2021, with the two organisations to work together to deliver the tournament’s strategic goal of being the most digitally-connected sports entertainment event in 2021.