Rugby League World Cup: England seeking inspiration in Wayne's World

Bad memories to erase - Sam Burgess after England's 2013 semi-final defeat
Bad memories to erase - Sam Burgess after England's 2013 semi-final defeat
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Wayne Bennett leads England against his home country in Melbourne on Friday morning in the competition's opening match. Ralph Ellis looks at where the veteran Aussie might make a difference.

"This time it could be much closer and upwards of [3.3] for Australia to win by 1-12 points in the Margin of Victory market looks an interesting bet."

I love those quotes that get pinned up on dressing room walls. I've seen all sorts at different times, put there by coaches to inspire their players.

Jack Dempsey's "a champion is someone who gets up when he can't" and Mike Ditka's "you're never a loser until you quit trying" would be a couple of my favourites.

But here's a new one on me, courtesy of England's Rugby League coach Wayne Bennett as he leads his team into the World Cup this week: "Don't die with the music in you".

It was the title of his book which sold 100,000 copies Down Under, and was all about making sure you don't fail to reach your potential. It's very apt for the 67-year-old's ambitions over the next few weeks.

Australia, in Australia, are not surprisingly the [1.24] favourites to be lifting the trophy after the final is played in Bennett's home town of Brisbane on December 2.

But if anybody can upset those odds it is England, and Bennett, the most successful coach in the history of the sport in Australia, has overseen a huge revolution in thinking and planning ahead of this competition.

Still based in Australia, and with seven of his squad playing their club rugby in the NRL, he's organised regular get-togethers back here for the players to get attuned to his thinking. After a week's intensive build-up work in their training camp in Perth he is now feeling confident about what his side could achieve.

England are [13.5] to win the trophy and make amends for the way their last World Cup venture on home soil ended in such frustration. Leading in the final seconds of the semi-final against New Zealand, they failed to keep the ball and saw Shaun Johnson score a dramatic try to snatch the win.

This time you sense Bennett will have brought a greater discipline and match mentality so that if they get in that sort of dominant position again they can see a game through.

Losing Zak Hardaker following the positive drugs test which cost him his place in Super League's Grand Final is a blow, unquestionably. A bit like England's Ashes squad heading Down Under without Ben Stokes.

But it is still a sign of the strength that Bennett has at his disposal that he was able to leave Sam Tomkins out of the squad by choice, and Sam Burgess has a chance to star and show what he might have done if he'd been managed better in the Rugby Union World Cup.

England couldn't have a better measure of where they stand than their first Pool A fixture against Australia in Melbourne on Friday morning. The Kangaroos have a few problems of their own with stars Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis both out through injury.

That offers the chance to Super League's Man of Steel Luke Gale to show he's the sport's best half back and make a statement on the competition's opening day. England are [7.6] to deliver a shock win.

Bennett has kept together most of the squad that lost to Australia in the Four Nations last year. On that occasion they showed promise in the semi-final, taking an early lead before ultimately getting brushed aside 36-18.

This time it could be much closer and upwards of [3.3] for Australia to win by 1-12 points in the Margin of Victory market looks an interesting bet. At the very least this England team won't die with the music in them.

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