Rugby League World Cup: Iconic coach Wayne Bennett open to future role with the Kiwis

Wayne Bennett was part of then Kiwis successful 2008 World Cup campaign.
Wayne Bennett was part of then Kiwis successful 2008 World Cup campaign. Photo credit: Photosport

Super coach Wayne Bennett is open to a potential future return to the Kiwis fold.

The Iconic 67-year-old was a World Cup winner with New Zealand in 2008 when he was an assistant to then coach Stephen Kearney.

Currently preparing England for a titanic semi-final clash with Tonga in Auckland, Bennett said 2008 was a positive experience and he wouldn't rule out a return.

"I had a great time and a great tournament and that is what brought me back this time.

"Who knows? Right now I am working with England and happy to be there but I enjoyed my time with the Kiwis," the Broncos mentor said.

The Australian looms as a target for New Zealand Rugby League should they look to replace incumbent David Kidwell.

Kidwell has won only three of 10 Tests at the helm of the national side, and the early exit from the World Cup at the hands of Fiji is likely to see him ousted.

NZRL boss Alex Hayton has confirmed they may look at loosening the current regulations around foreign coaches.

As it stands the national coach must be a New Zealander to be eligible.

With Kidwell's failed campaign, and the lack of local options to fill the potential void, the NZRL may have no other choice than to turn to Australia if they want to make a change.

Newshub understands the NZRL were willing to bend the rules in 2008, offering Bennett the head coaching job eventually filled by Kearney.

Bennett confirmed to Newshub he turned the role down, recommending they choose a New Zealand coach while he would fill the assistant role.

That proved to be a recipe for success.

Bennett said a review of the 2017 failings is a complete waste of time.

"They will recover from this but the last thing they need is a review," he joked.

"They all know what went wrong they don't have to have another review and use that as an excuse to make change."

First and foremost on the mind of the seven-time NRL premiership winner is to ensure his current side can overcome the roadblock that has become Tonga at the tournament.

Following a passionate win over Samoa three-weeks ago, the Tongans overcame a 14-point deficit to rundown the Kiwis in Hamilton.

A slightly nervy quarter-final win over Lebanon a week later is the reality check the Pacific Island side needed as England awaits at Eden Park.

Bennett is expecting a sea of red when his side runs out on Saturday night.

"The atmosphere there will be parochial - that is fine. It is good. That is what it is about," he said.

"They have been good and it will be a good game."

"They've got some quality players from their fullback right through to their front row, so that's a major threat.

"All the guys have been playing football, and they're playing pretty well."