Bennett’s stark warning: League dead in 15 years
BRONCOS and England coach Wayne Bennett has lashed critics of the controversial Denver Test and warned rugby league will be dead in 15 years if the code doesn't promote the international game.
Bennett used his weekly press conference ahead of Brisbane's clash with Canberra tomorrow at Suncorp Stadium to hit back at criticism of the England-New Zealand Test in America.
Several New Zealand players, including Broncos trio Kodi Nikorima, Jordan Kahu and Jamayne Isaako, had their flights home delayed, affecting the preparation of NRL clubs for their round 16 fixtures.
But Bennett is adamant the trip to the US was worth it and warned the code risks flatlining unless the game explores fresh markets with huge populations.
"It (the Denver Test) worked for me, I don't know about anyone else," he said.
"I'm sure it worked for the game. We (England's NRL contingent) were back in Sydney at 7am, we beat the Origin players back to their houses.
"They don't build monuments to critics.
"There's a lot to be said about what we did in America and I can't see any reason why we can't continue to do it. The game works against the game.
"We didn't get on board with it as a game. The people that run the game have to run the whole of the game.
"In 1987, we were in America for Origin so we need to follow it up.
"America is a huge country with a huge population and they love the body contact and the game we play. We have to get a plan and a long-term view of what. Even if we get one per cent of the US population interested that's huge.
"If we don't have a global sport we won't have league in 15 years time, it will be a little game of league played in two states.
"We need a global view, we have to take the game to other markets ... it's a great product."
Closer to home, Bennett's focus is back at Red Hill with an eighth-placed Broncos team that can inch closer to a finals berth by beating the ninth-placed Raiders tomorrow night at Suncorp Stadium.
In a blow for the Broncos, key forward Tevita Pangai Jr has been ruled out with a rib injury after pulling up sore from the captain's run.
But Brisbane's squad has been bolstered by the return of Korbin Sims from a broken jaw. He is set to be pitchforked into the starting side to replace Pangai Jr.
"He just has to go to doctor for an official clearance, but it looks like he is good to go," Bennett said.
"Korbin is a guy who knows how to get the job done.
"Origin is only one game away from ending so it's the right time of year to get some momentum.
"I'm hoping we play well, from Canberra's point of view it's a big game for them, they don't want to lose touch with the eight. We want to make sure we stay in a good position ourselves."