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Great Britain’s latest defeat raises more questions over Wayne Bennett’s future as head coach  

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Great Britain are dejected after losing another match
Great Britain are dejected after losing another match

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Great Britain forward John Bateman apologised to travelling supporters after a third straight tour defeat raised more questions about Wayne Bennett’s future as head coach.

The 23-8 loss to New Zealand in Christchurch means the Lions must beat Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on Saturday to avoid the humiliation of being whitewashed.

Bateman, typically, was one of his team’s best performers but another disjointed display from Bennett’s side saw the Kiwis edge three tries ahead before Josh Hodgson’s effort prompted a fightback which fell short.

Bradford-born Bateman, who was officially recognised as the best second-rower in the NRL during his debut season at Canberra Raiders, could not hide his disappointment afterwards.

He said: “That’s three losses now and we haven’t won a game yet, so it’s really tough to take.

The defeats have been tough for Great Britain to take

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“New Zealand are a good side, they turned up and played well, but we gave them some possession which cost us a lot.

“We’ve trained well and got our combinations, but we haven’t been able to put that out on the field. 

“When we walked out and sang the national anthem, all our fans were there signing and screaming, so I want to say a massive thank you to them.

“I apologise that we couldn’t get the win, and for the tour, but I really appreciate them coming out here and spending their hard-earned money. We want to finish the tour with a win in Papua New Guinea now.”

The Rugby Football League’s rugby director Kevin Sinfield flew out to Christchurch to attend Saturday’s game and is set for talks with Bennett about the veteran Australian’s position.

Bennett has been employed by the RFL as England coach for the past four years and an Ashes series against Australia next year will be followed by the 2021 World Cup.

Great Britain will finish off their tour with a clash against Papua New Guinea next weekend

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Both events are to be staged on home soil in England but it remains to be seen if Bennett, 69, will be awarded a new deal and tasked with leading the national side into the World Cup.

His immediate priority is beating Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby and half-backs George Williams and Jake Trueman look certain to feature for the first time during the tour.

Bennett said: “I don’t want them away for a month without giving them a game of football. 

“They are quality players and I need to see how they go, but there won’t be any wholesale changes.”

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