Bennett's guns blazing

Wayne Bennett unleashed a blistering attack on critics calling for his head after naming just one forced change to Australia's starting line-up for the second match of the Tri-Nations series on Friday night.

Bennett resisted calls for mass sackings, particularly in the forwards, after Australia suffered a 38-28 loss to a depleted Kiwi outfit in the series opener at Telstra Stadium last Saturday night.

It was the Kangaroos' first loss to the Kiwis in Sydney in 46 years, placing further pressure on Bennett after the Brisbane mentor coached the Broncos to seven straight defeats to end the NRL season.

But apart from St George Illawarra centre Matt Cooper coming into the side in place of the injured Timana Tahu, forcing Brent Tate to the wing, Bennett stuck solid with his run-on side.

He expected his bosses at the Australian Rugby League to remain equally as loyal to him, unloading on journalists after Tuesday's team announcement for suggesting his future was on the line in Auckland.

"Let's put a few things into perspective very quickly so we don't go on with a whole lot of waste of time here," Bennett fired.

"Australian cricket coach John Buchanan's been away, they've tried to do a job on him and he's retained his position.

"Eddie Jones has been in the same boat. He's retained his position and, regardless of the outcome here, I wouldn't think that I'd be under any more pressure than I've been under in my life.

"If they (the ARL) are unhappy with what I'm doing, then they'll make a decision on that."

Bennett said he would not "answer another question on whether I'm under some type of pressure after one loss" for the rest of the triangular series also involving Great Britain.

"It's ridiculous and if that's your agenda, you carry on with it. It's up to you people," he snapped.

"But I've seen what's happened with Buchanan and the agenda that was there. I've seen what's happened with Eddie Jones, and you've got to understand the business that we're in.

"We play sport and there's losers. Someone has to win and someone has to lose and Australia - regardless of whatever sport they're in - are not going to stay at the top of everything for the rest of our lives.

"So you better get used to it and you better get used to a stronger administration standing up a little bit more, which they have obviously done in Jones' case and Buchanan's because they've kept them on because they realise the only thing they can be assured of is continuity.

"It's more important than having a gut reaction because someone in the media thinks someone should be moving on.

"When the media start running our sport in this country, we're all in a fair bit of trouble I can tell you."

Bennett also addressed the contentious issue of Parramatta back-rower Nathan Hindmarsh coming into the squad in place of Tahu, a back three-quarter, saying the situation was no different when Cooper missed a place in the 17-man squad and he picked four forwards on the bench.

"There's no place for an outside back in the modern game in the make-up of your interchange bench, so the position's well covered," he said.

"We've just got to get through Friday night first and then we'll make a decision (on a longer-term outside back replacement) after that ... if we have to."

The only changes on the bench were St George Illawarra captain Trent Barrett replacing Penrith skipper Craig Gower and Mark O'Meley taking over from Bulldogs teammate Andrew Ryan.

Bennett said both changes were part of his planned rotation system and that Gower and Ryan should not be viewed as having been dropped.

Barrett was only too happy to defend Bennett's position.

"I don't think Wayne Bennett lost us the game last week," he said. "It was our ball control that lost us the game last week and I think any criticism or pressure on Wayne is unfair.

"We have to deliver and it's been in the same in the Australian side every year. A lot of pressure for spots and there's always a lot of pressure to win.

"We've been the best team in the world for a number of years and with success comes expectation and we all know that."

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