By DAVE HADFIELD
SO THAT’S it. Here we are again. England’s 10-year wait for a win – any win – over Australia will go on at least until next year’s World Cup.
Some of the defeats over that dismal decade have been narrow. Some have been unfortunate. This was neither.
You will get the blow-by-blow elsewhere in this paper. I’ll just share with you a few things I noticed.
1. The half-back issue was with dealt with by starting Kevin Brown, not playing in the tournament until then.
2. We looked sharper, though, when George Williams came on during the second half.
3. I’ve heard a lot about how little Wayne Bennett says to his teams at halftime.
That wasn’t the case yesterday. He was in Mark Percival’s ear for what seemed like an age. The jury’s still out on
whether that was time well spent.
4. A proportion of those who would have enjoyed a relatively close first half didn’t see all of it.
I had calls from people in the queues for the turnstiles around 45 minutes kick-off and they were far from confident of getting in at all.
I know that the London Stadium is having what are euphemistically known as teething problems.
It is the RFL however which gets the reputation for being unable to organise a p***-up in a brewery.
It’s rugby league that suffers when people decide that it’s all a bit too much trouble going to big games.
Why all the fuss over Wayne’s silence?
I MUST say I’m a bit baffled by the outcry over Bennett’s reluctance to communicate with Planet Earth since he became England coach.
After all, grumpy old men often change their ways deep into their 60s. Ask them at our house about that.
Besides, having read the transcript of the Interview From Hell last week, I still can’t fathom what the fuss is all about.
Alright, he doesn’t pretend to enjoy the process very much, but there were enough lines there to make several stories, which, as I understand it, is the object of the exercise.
And if the air doesn’t exactly crackle with mutual admiration, what has it cost you?(continued below)
Twenty minutes of your life? Some of us had 20 years of of Ellery Hanley.
Now, if you wanted to share a room with someone who really hated you, those were the halcyon days.
It ran so deep that I can’t remember how it began, but you were left in no doubt about what a worm you were.
Compared with that, once more round the block with Wayne Bennett and his sulky schoolboy routine is neither here nor there.
Anyway, if he was ever to win anything as England coach, he can come into the press conference, spit on the floor, show his backside and open proceedings by yelling ‘You Pommie b*****s…’ for all I care.
I would celebrate it in the same way as I would an Ashes victory masterminded by Donald J Trump. I might prefer someone else to be at the helm, but it doesn’t really matter.
Sad losses for the rugby league family
AMONG other things, the week has been notable for, is the loss of two players of similar vintage and pedigree, but very different styles.
Tommy Martyn Snr was arguably the most talented of that family – which is saying something – the sort of second-rower who could draw defenders into the tackle and then slip the ball out to supporting players with devastating effect.
In other words, he was the type of second-rower we don’t produce any more.
Imagine Brett Ferres having the game of his life, but doing it every week, and you’re getting somewhere close.
Kevin O’Loughlin was a very different proposition, but a significant figure in his own right, because he was one of the first to be described routinely as ‘a utility player’.He showed remarkable versatility by playing everywhere in the back-line for Wigan.
In fact, you could play him just about anywhere apart from front-row and get away with it.
It was a bit of a double-edged sword being as versatile as him, because there was often an unspoken assumption that ‘Jack of all Trades’ meant ‘Master of None’.
That wasn’t the case with O’Loughlin, although it is probably fair to say that he marks a stage in de-specialisation of the game.
And with his classy brother Keiron – who was a genuine top-notch centre – and the current standard-bearer, Sean, in the family tree, he was part of just as distinguished a rugby league family as the Martyns.
And Tommy Martyn Snr, by con-incidence , was one of the few players of his generation who really disliked being interviewed. Tommy Jnr more than made up for that.
Hungary for success
CONGRATULATIONS to my local team, the Bolton Mets, who have become the first English club to tour Hungary.
They lost a tight, defensive game by 52-50 to a Budapest Select XIII.
There seems to be some suggestion that the previous evening’s socialising had something to do with this shock result. The point, though, is that it maintains Bolton’s tradition of overseas touring, which also includes cultural exchanges with Germany, Ireland, Holland and other destinations.