NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Veteran Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett should be allowed to help coach whatever country he wants, but one of his former players, Wally Lewis (inset), doesn’t agree.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Veteran Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett should be allowed to help coach whatever country he wants, but one of his former players, Wally Lewis (inset), doesn’t agree.

Don’t be a Wally, King

RUGBY LEAGUE: Wally Lewis is offside to suggest Wayne Bennett would be a turncoat, or disloyal to Australia if he accepted a reported offer to coach England.

A fiercely passionate and loyal player for both Queensland and Australia, Lewis reacted to reports Bennett could coach England in this year's Four Nations series by saying he would always remain loyal to his state and country

Lewis, who was coached and sacked by Bennett at the Broncos, pulled on the green and gold 34 times.

There has arguably not been a more passionate player for Australia or Queensland.

"I'm old school. If you are Australian you coach Australia. If you are a Pom (English) you stick with them," Lewis told a Sydney radio station.

Lewis acknowledged Bennett had already helped New Zealand triumph over Australia at the 2008 World Cup, and conceded if his main objective was helping other countries improve their standards, taking charge of England could be acceptable.

"I don't know whether I or a lot of other guys could step into that position," he said.

"If you're an Australian, you stay an Australian all your life."

The reality is, however, that Bennett is a professional rugby league coach and is not governed by the international rules that don't allow players to swap countries.

His position is totally different. He can coach anywhere and anyone he wants, and after Australia rejected him in December for Mal Meninga, England clearly saw an opportunity to get its hands on perhaps the best ever to help its cause.

Other sporting codes including soccer, baseball and basketball poach coaches from all around the world. Former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones is now in charge of England, while England's cricket team has an Aussie coach in former NSW batsman Trevor Bayliss.

Bennett would not be the first rugby league coach to prepare a UK team, with former Dragon David Waite having a stint at the helm of Great Britain between 2001-2003. And Tony Smith, the brother of former St George, Parramatta and Newcastle mentor Brian Smith, also coached Great Britain in 2007 and England in 2008-09.

Most English Super League clubs have at one time employed an Australian coach.


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