'We have to come back': Bennett on Denver experience

Wayne Bennett left his coach's box on the fourth level of Mile High Stadium before the end of the historic Test so he could stand on the sideline and soak up the atmosphere of England's historic Test win against New Zealand on Sunday morning.

"I couldn't believe the atmosphere down there and being close to the field it was exceptional," Bennett said.

"You could see the hits and you could see the guys in their state of exhaustion."

England overcame a 12-0 deficit late in the first half to beat New Zealand 36-18 in the first Test between tier one nations on US soil, but more importantly than the result was the fact the teams put on a good spectacle for the 19,320 fans in attendance and those watching live on US television.

"I am proud of our game and anywhere in the world I could take it I would take it," Bennett said.

"The footy was great, there was some big hits, a few arguments, a few disagreements; it was a pretty typical game of rugby league and both sides gave a lot.

"I just hope they invite us back next year because I want to be here, the team want to be here, it is a great facility and a great atmosphere."

England winger Ryan Hall scores in the corner.
England winger Ryan Hall scores in the corner. ©photosport.co.nz

Having coached Queensland in the 1987 State of Origin match at Long Beach, California and also Australia against the United States national team in 2004 at Philadelphia, Bennett fears that the Denver Test could become a one-off unless the NRL gives careful consideration to the scheduling of next season's draw.

"It is the third time I have bought teams here and this is the best presentation we have ever done, it was the best crowd we have ever had and I just don't want to leave it behind like we left the other years before," he said.

"We have got to come back, we have got a great product. I just want the game to embrace it. We had a lot of issues with our game getting here. They are not here today -  the people who were making the issues - but I just hope they get the message and they work out the program so we can start coming here to places like Denver and in America."

Asked when the fight for next year's Denver Test would begin, Bennett said: "It starts now, it starts today.

"It just defies logic from my point of view that we can have Tonga play Samoa, Papua New Guinea play Fiji, we can have State of Origin and we are the ones who have got to put ourselves out to come over and we want to do that but we can't play on the same weekend.

"When they can justify that to me I will drop off and say you've made your point, but they can't.

"If we were to start Origin now, Origin would never start because the clubs in the 1980s didn't want it but Ron Mcauliffe and Kevin Humphries were strong enough to say that's what we need, and we need a lot of people to stand up for the international game now because it is the next horizon.

"If we don't have a global product in 20 years we won't have a product. Sport is changing that quickly and kids are growing up with all the sports around the world. I want to be in a market place where we can take rugby league people know about and they come and see it and want to play it."

Kiwis fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
Kiwis fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. ©photosport.co.nz

There have been suggestions NRL clubs may not release their players for a Test in Denver next year but England prop James Graham said: "If I get picked I am going to play".

New Zealand coach Michael Maguire said he wanted to return next year after experiencing the atmosphere of playing at Mile High Stadium.

"One thing the Americans do is they get behind their sport and if we can rugby league into the American market it is going to be huge," Maguire said.

"They like contact, they like the defensive side of the game so I think it will grow if we go further into the American market.

"There were a couple of decent hits and it bought the noise levels up. I think we showed some good footy and the crowd really came in the game. There was probably a few out there who didn't know what was going on but they enjoyed it as a spectacle anyway."

New Zealand hooker Issac Luke said he had met some players from the domestic USA Rugby League competition at the match and believed the game needed to return to continue to grow.

"To be able to bring games over here would be good," Luke said.

"There is supposed to be a World Cup here in 2025."