Kangaroos don't buy Bennett's mind games
The Kangaroos aren’t buying into Wayne Bennett’s suggestion his England side probably can’t win the World Cup final on Saturday night in Brisbane.
Bennett made the statement after England’s narrow 20-18 semi-final win over Tonga but Kangaroos prop David Klemmer said those kind of mind games won’t engender any complacency in the Australian squad.
Klemmer insisted Bennett would instil belief in the England squad that they could upset the host nation.
“That’s just how Wayne is,” Klemmer said when asked about Bennett’s remarks.
“He is probably trying to take the heat off England at the moment, but we know what they are capable of.
“They have attacking strike across the park, big bodies and they are very passionate about representing their country.
“Wayne Bennett is one of the greatest coaches in rugby league and he will probably have some sort of plan for us this week and he’ll be telling the England fellas how to beat Australia. We know we are up for an almighty fight.”
Bench forward Wade Graham expects a better England performance than in the opening pool clash where Australia put the game to bed late to win 18-4.
Graham said Bennett had “seen and done it all” and did not believe his defeatist remarks.
“I don’t read too much into that,” Graham said.
“We are expecting a better version of them and they are expecting a better version of us [than the first World Cup clash].
“It was our first game together in the tournament when we met each other and both teams have no doubt improved in a lot of areas.”
Klemmer said losing Josh Hodgson to a knee injury was “massive” for England but added that replacement James Roby would be up to the task.
He knows the class of NRL stars James Graham and Sam Burgess in the forward pack only too well.
“I versed them in that first game and it was tough in the middle. They are both fierce competitors and love playing for England so we will have to be on our game,” Klemmer said.
“England had a bit of a scare against Tonga last week but they are a world class outfit.
“That first Test against them was pretty tough and we knew the back end of the tournament we’d be versing them somewhere.”
Meanwhile, Graham said the opportunity to play in a World Cup final was not on his radar at the start of 2017.
“It has definitely gone beyond the goals I set at the start of the year,” he said.
“After the Origin period there was a down part there with the loss [by NSW], and Origin takes a lot out of you physically and mentally.
“Then my focus was on the Sharkies and we bowed out not where we wanted to.
“To get an opportunity to be in this Australian squad and play as many games as I have, I am over the moon.
“Mal names the team Tuesday and to potentially be in position to play a World Cup final is something I never would have dreamed of.”