St Helens boss Keiron Cunningham has criticised the appointment of Australian Wayne Bennett as England coach, arguing that there are ideal candidates to succeed Steve McNamara in Super League.

Cunningham says the Rugby Football League should have looked no further than Brian McDermott, who guided Leeds to the treble in 2015 and also helped the US qualify for the 2017 World Cup, or Wigan's Shaun Wane for the job.

"Brian Mac should be our front runner and I find it baffling and shocking that he has had to cross the Atlantic to coach the United States of America when we are looking towards Australia for a new national coach," said Cunningham.

"I've nothing against Wayne Bennett - he is a great coach and players will jump at the chance to play under him - but Brian's record speaks for itself and I feel he would be the right choice."


Bennett's appointment is guaranteed to divide opinion.

Former England captains Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield have already criticised the move, insisting McNamara should have been re-appointed for the 2017 World Cup, while Australian legend Wally Lewis has voiced his disapproval, saying an Australian should not coach England.

The deal will see him take charge of the England team through the 2016 Four Nations and the 2017 World Cup.

McNamara's contract ran out at the end of November's test series against New Zealand and is not being renewed.

"I am very excited by the challenge of taking England on to the next level," said Bennett, who will be in England later this month with last year's NRL runners-up Brisbane for the World Club Series.

Bennett, who will continue in his role as Brisbane boss, has twice coached Australia and was right-hand man to Stephen Kearney when New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup - as well leading teams to seven NRL grand final victories.

"Wayne is quite rightly regarded as the outstanding coach of his generation and I am delighted that we have been able to secure his services," RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said.

"This England team has made considerable progress over the last few years and we now possess truly world class players across all positions. These players deserve the very best support and coaching."