Bennett’s novel solution to salary cap mess
Wayne Bennett has weighed into Canterbury's salary cap fight with the NRL over Kieran Foran's injury controversy, declaring the NRL should give the Bulldogs "total" relief for losing their $1 million marquee man while away on Test duties.
"It doesn't cost the game a bloody cent," Bennett said.
In a wide-ranging interview in the wake of Great Britain's historic loss to Papua New Guinea, Bennett also put aside his personal disappointment and praised rugby league's Pacific Nations for making the international game "as good as I've seen it".
Bennett didn't shy away from the enormity of his own predicament with the 69-year-old all but conceding he had coached the Poms for the final time.
Bennett's contract with England was up at the end of this series and after losing all four games there appears little chance he will keep his position following the shock 28-10 loss in Port Moresby.
"Of course I am disappointed," he said.
"I feel we have underachieved. That is what I feel.
"But at the same time I know we are not too far off the pace."
Bennett said he didn't want to elaborate on what went wrong but was adamant morale and players' attitude was not to blame.
He said he was prepared to wear whatever decisions are made.
"We haven't had the tour we wanted and there are obviously some reasons for that," he said.
"But our record over the last three years has been pretty good."
PRAISE THE PACIFIC
Bennett was adamant Papua New Guinea deserved their victory - and what happened in Port Moresby on the weekend would live with him forever.
"You just had to be there to appreciate how memorable it was," Bennett said.
"The atmosphere, the moment the national anthems were played, it was just magnificent.
"I was standing there thinking to myself, if I am a kid at home in Australia or in Papua New Guinea and I am watching this, this is what I want to do one day. I want to be playing for my country. I want to be in this moment."
Asked if he had seen the international game in a stronger position, Bennett added: "It is as good as I've seen it.
"The game now has to continue what it has started and everyone has to get on board.
"The players are on board.
"There is real competition between five or six nations.
"In the past it was always Australia, New Zealand and England.
"Now we are talking at least six nations and we have been able to do something rugby hasn't been able to do and that is develop the Pacific Islands.
"We all recognise the huge talent that is there but these guys want to play for their countries of origin now and that has made such a difference.
"So the game is in a good place and the International Board deserves a rap."
FAIRNESS FOR FORAN
The rugby league calendar is not getting any shorter and after an extended Test series this year, next year Australia travel to England for an extended Kangaroo tour.
In the background clubs are already understandably nervous, especially looking at Canterbury's current predicament.
Bennett agreed Foran's injury again highlighted the unfair risk on clubs when it comes to releasing players for rep duty.
This has been a bone of contention for years and recent changes are little more than window dressing.
As it stands Canterbury can only receive up to $350,000 of salary cap relief if Foran is sidelined for more than 12 games.
Given Foran is on a reported $1.2 million contract that is small change.
"As a club coach now taking in the fairness of it all, the clubs pay the greatest price and there only needs to be a subtle change here," Bennett said.
"If a player is out longer than a month they should get full salary cap relief to replace that player.
"Anything over four weeks is a pretty serious injury these days.
"If they do a bit of a hammy or twist a knee, you get them back in four weeks.
"But anything over that they should get total relief.
"You would average it out. If a player is worth $1 million and he is gone for half a season you should get half a million in your cap.
"The international game is certainly on the improve.
"But how the clubs are compensated has to also be taken into account.
"We all see the injuries. No one is making it up.
"So why wouldn't the game take this into account, and help the club who has given up their player to help grow the game?
"It doesn't cost the game a bloody cent.
"Then there is no angst from the club when the player is going away and it is reciprocal.
"It is an easy fix."