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England prop James Graham.

As he prepares to oversee a James Graham-captained England team against France, Wayne Bennett has confirmed he wants to continue coaching at international level beyond next year's southern hemisphere Lions tour and is seeking a new mid-season fixture to replace the Denver Test.

With Wigan premiership-winning captain Sean O'Loughlin among 10 players from last year's World Cup squad unavailable for the Test against France at Leigh on Wednesday, Graham will captain England for the first time since 2014.

The St George Illawarra prop is one of five NRL players in the England team for the Test. South Sydney brothers Tom and George Burgess and Canberra pair Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead complete that list.

"Even though I have done it before it's still an indescribable feeling to explain what it means to lead out your country," Graham said.

"Obviously, I am very proud and there is a lot of reflection in terms of about the people who have done it before."

England prop James Graham takes on Australia.
England prop James Graham takes on Australia. ©NRL Photos

The clash with France will be followed by the upcoming three-Test series against New Zealand, who beat Australia 26-24 in Auckland last weekend. A Lions tour is scheduled for the end of next season.

Just like his NRL situation with Brisbane, Bennett is contracted to coach England until the end of next season but he told reporters in Leigh on Tuesday that he was keen to remain in the role for the Kangaroos tour of Britain in 2020, and possibly the 2021 World Cup.

"I hope so," Bennett said. "I certainly will be next year. We'll just have to see how I'm going but, if I'm not getting the job done or [have] lost the players' confidence, then I won't stay longer than I should."

Bennett has already said he wants to continue coaching at club level beyond his 70th birthday (2020) but he won't be with the Broncos as they have begun interviewing replacements for the season after next.

In the meantime, Bennett is focused on finding an opponent for England to play on next June's stand-alone representative weekend after the Kiwis announced a Test against Tonga following the fallout from the Denver Test.

With Australian players involved in State of Origin, England may turn to Samoa or Fiji.

"I see Tonga and New Zealand have positioned themselves to play each other and I just need to talk to Kevin [Sinfield] and a few of the staff to find out what is really going on," Bennett said.

"We need that mid-year Test because it has helped us enormously and I don't want to lose it."

England played Samoa at Campbelltown Stadium in 2017 and travelled to Denver this year to play New Zealand as part of a three-deal with Moore Sports International but the Kiwis turned to Tonga after being left out of pocket from the venture.   

England: 1. James Shaul (Hull FC), 2. Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), 3. Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity), 4. Mark Percival (St Helens), 5. Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), 6. Richie Myler (Leeds Rhinos), 7. Jake Connor (Hull FC), 8. James Graham (St. George Illawarra Dragons), 9. Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders), 10. Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 11. Oliver Holmes (Castleford Tigers), 12. Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders), 13. George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs). Interchange: 14. Adam Milner (Castleford Tigers), 15. Luke Thompson (St Helens), 16. Robbie Mulhern (Hull KR), 17. Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos).

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