Bennett rips into Tri-Nations critics

Australian coach Wayne Bennett blasted critics of the Gillette Tri-Nations Series on the eve of his re-appointment.

Bennett, who coached the Kangaroos to a stunning 44-4 victory over Great Britain in November's Tri-Nations final, told the Australian Rugby League (ARL) at the weekend he would accept the position again.

The appointment will be formalised at Tuesday's ARL board meeting in Sydney, where the Kangaroos' 2005 schedule will be unveiled.

Australia will play the Anzac Test against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on April 22 and take part in a slightly-revised Tri-Nations programme after the NRL Grand Final on October 2.

Bennett is a big fan of the Tri-Nations concept and delivered a broadside at its opponents, including Canterbury Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes who has called for it to be scrapped.

"The negativity from back home was disappointing while we were away," Bennett said. "There were up to eight guys who came away with injuries because that's what the honour of playing for their country means to them.

"That's the tragedy of this. These men want to play for their country. But then you've got guys back home, who've also played for their country in some cases, mouthing off every second day.

"The commitment shown by the players to wearing the green and gold is why I'm prepared to hang in there with them."

Tuesday's board meeting is also likely to feature a heated debate between Queensland and New South Wales delegates over the Test captaincy.

The QRL will push hard to have Darren Lockyer re-appointed immediately but NSW wants to hold out to see how well Andrew Johns fares in his comeback from a career-threatening knee injury.

Bennett is known to favour his Broncos skipper Lockyer, who led Australia magnificently on the 2003 Ashes tour and in last year's Tri-Nations.