Following their tense 20-18 RLWC semi-final win against Tonga today, one would expect a feel good factor to be pulsing through the veins of all involved with the England national rugby league team for the next few days as they prepare for their first RLWC final in 22 years next Saturday against Australia.
But that feeling has been quashed almost immediately by coach Wayne Bennett who said “probably not” when asked if England could win the trophy, but that they “will be there next week – we’ll still go to the game.” Now, it is one thing, in my mind, for media and pundits to put down the team’s chances against the undisputed number one team in the world but should the coach – and figurehead – of England RL be voicing such concerns? I am not so sure.
It indicates an already negative feeling about the challenge ahead and almost provides players with an excuse to not give their all – not something I am suggesting is or will be the case, I hasten to add. Any professional sports coach, in fact anybody who works with teams of people, would tell you not to put negative doubts in their mind and that it is the role of a manager and leader to inspire and attempt to create a feeling of superiority in their charges in order to earn results.
Yes, England are massive underdogs going into next weekend’s final against their old Australian enemies but should the coach be doubting his team’s chances publically?
If you ask me, no.