All eyes on Bennett in Four Nations

Wayne Bennett has been tipped to make a significant impact as he prepares to take charge of England in a major tournament for the first time at the Four Nations.

Hosts England will do battle with New Zealand, Australia and rank outsiders Scotland in the four-team event, which gets under way with a meeting between the latter two nations in Hull on Friday.

The tournament favourites are Australia, who have recorded two victories over reigning champions New Zealand in 2016, including a 26-6 triumph earlier this month. 

Yet there will be considerable focus on how England perform, after Brisbane Broncos chief Bennett - the winning coach in a record seven NRL Grand Finals - was recruited in February to succeed Steve McNamara.

Speaking at the Four Nations launch, prop James Graham acknowledged the arrival of the 66-year-old Australian had provided a boost to an England team desperate to claim a first Four Nations title.

"Without blowing smoke up his backside, he's probably one of the most successful and best coaches not just of his generation but in the game's 100-and-whatever-year history," Graham told Omnisport.

"Obviously success has followed him pretty much wherever he has been and he wanted to coach England, which is great for us, great for the game and hopefully he can be the catalyst for us winning a major competition."

Players from Australia and New Zealand, the two nations to have tasted Four Nations glory since the tournament replaced the Tri-Nations in 2009, are expecting a stiff test from England as a result of Bennett's input.

"He'll have his boys fired up and ready to go throughout this tournament and I think it's great for international rugby league that he's taken over as coach of England," Kangaroos star Greg Inglis told Omnisport.

Kiwis skipper Jesse Bromwich added: "It [Bennett's impact] is obviously going to be massive. He was part of the 2008 World Cup-winning squad here at the Kiwis [in a coaching role] and he did a superb job.

"They managed to win that against a good quality Australian outfit so you can't go past how big an addition he's going to be for the whole [England] squad."

England, who kick off their campaign against New Zealand in Huddersfield on Saturday, will be captained by Sam Burgess following his high-profile return to rugby league following a stint in union that ended with World Cup misery last October.

The tournament features a double-header in Coventry next weekend, while Australia will take on England at the London Stadium - the venue for the 2012 Olympics - before the final is held at Anfield on November 20.

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