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England captain Sean O'Loughlin and coach Wayne Bennett.

England coach Wayne Bennett says his side's discipline is the key to winning their opening match of the Rugby League World Cup against Australia on Friday night.

England has gone close recently against their old foe – they performed strongly in patches in their last meeting in the 2016 Four Nations – and Bennett wants his team to stay composed in the big moments.

"The thing for us will be when we get under pressure whether we make errors," he said. 

"There's nothing else we have to fear. We can match them in so many areas; we just have to make sure we don't put ourselves under pressure. We do really good things, but then all of a sudden if we go back to the British game (in London), we had two opportunities to kick the ball out for penalties and we didn't do that. 

"That's about as demoralizing (a position) as you can put a team in. All of a sudden you've got the opportunity to have good ball going into a set, then you're defending that kick. That's the stuff we've got to cover.

"They're habits. We're all creatures of habits, good and bad habits. Some of them need to learn a little bit of good habits. 

"It was one of my things at the end of the Four Nations, when they went back to their clubs, to work on eliminating some of that stuff."

Bennett has been pleased with the team's composure so far, citing last Friday's thrashing of a Combined Affiliated States team as very positive.

"The other night, we had an NRL referee and gave away three penalties for the night, three or four," Bennet said. 

"That's great, that's what I want. We can't give 10 (penalties). We can't do things that are going to put us in that situation. 

"Going back to the Australian game, we put great pressure on their kicker, but we tackled him high. It just kills you that stuff."

England is on an 11-game losing streak against Australia – a period that stretches back to the 1995 World Cup group game at Wembley – and Great Britain last defeated Australia in 2006. The Lions came closest in the 2014 Four Nations at AAMI Park with a narrow 16-12 loss. 

But Bennett said the team didn't bear any scars from this lack of success.

"That's a truism, but I'm not scarred," he said.

"We match them in a lot of areas. If we can match them in the areas of discipline and unforced errors, that will be our best chance of winning."


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