BRISBANE - Queensland - not Wayne Bennett - should be used for inspiration by the New Zealand rugby league team, Australian rugby league great Wally Lewis says.
Kiwis legend Hugh McGahan caused a stir this week when he called for Broncos mentor Bennett to take up the New Zealand reins and steer them back to test credibility.
But Lewis said the Kiwis could solve their test headaches by following the example of his beloved Queensland Origin team and show some pride in the jersey.
Current Kiwi mentor Gary Kemble is under pressure after New Zealand suffered a humiliating 58-0 record loss to Australia recently and were downed 20-14 by Great Britain in their three-test series opener in England on the weekend.
Kiwi players were impressed by Bennett when he successfully coached New Zealand's All Golds in their historic clash with Northern Union in England recently.
But Lewis said in Brisbane on Tuesday that the focus should be on the New Zealand players' performance, not the coach.
He said the Kiwis could learn a thing or two from "the Queensland team over the years" who had overcome the odds and a star studded New South Wales to clinch Origin series victories time and again.
"Pride is a wonderful thing. The Queensland blokes displayed that," Lewis said.
"When you see that sort of scoreline (58-0) it only makes a mockery of international rugby league."
Despite the recent lopsided win by Australia, Lewis said it was premature to say test rugby league was dead.
He said the 58-0 result had to be put into perspective with New Zealand missing the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall (injury) and using just one English-based player - Shontayne Hape.
"They are a 50 per cent better side with Sonny Bill there," Lewis said.
"And it snowballs - confidence wise - for them when he is missing.
"But they've got to start thinking that they are a chance of winning when they get out there."
Lewis said the sooner English Super League clubs freed up players more for New Zealand duty, the better the international football standard would become.
"That game (58-0) was very ordinary (but) I don't think you are able to assess it until the very best players are taking part in it," he said.
"And that's getting the English clubs to make players available.
"But if you do that there must be some kind of compensation for losing their big name players for club games.
"If you are playing at international level, you need your best players - and New Zealand don't have anywhere near their best team."
The New Zealan Rugby League would have to change its residency rule to even consider Bennett as coach - but Lewis was not so sure coaching the Kiwis would interest the Broncos mentor.
"He's got too many other important things to take into consideration," he said.
"But it's a professional game now - (New Zealander) Graham Lowe coached Queensland (in Origin).
"But only Wayne is able to speak on his future."