England and Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett was "wrong" to link NRL moves with the prospect of international honours, Robert Elstone said.

Super League clubs alarmed by England and Great Britain coach Bennett's NRL claim

Great Britain and England coach Wayne Bennett has sparked a backlash from Super League after hinting Ryan Sutton bolstered his international prospects by moving to Australia.

Former Wigan prop Sutton swapped the Warriors for NRL side Canberra Raiders at the end of last season and has caught the eye of Bennett.

However, comments from Bennett that appeared to indicate Sutton enhanced his credentials by moving Down Under have caused unease, with Super League chief executive Robert Elstone stating it felt like the "wrong" thing to say.

Speaking on Tuesday, Bennett suggested he "wouldn't have seen the potential he has got" if Sutton had not made the switch. 

"It just challenges them over there because the competition is so hard," Bennett said.

That has been read as an inference that players moving to the NRL, where Bennett is head coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, might be better placed to push for England and Great Britain honours than those who remain at home.

The English league issued a statement on Wednesday that said: "Super League clubs have expressed their concern at comments made by Great Britain and England Rugby League head coach Wayne Bennett, which appear to be in conflict with one of its chief aims - to attract and retain the best players in the Super League competition."

Elstone said: "Securing and retaining the world’s best players is a priority for Super League.

"Quite rightly - and even more so now as we are nearing discussions around a new broadcast deal - it is seen by our clubs as fundamental to the future success of the competition.

"While several of our leading players have excelled in the NRL and, in all likelihood, more will want to test themselves in that environment, it does feel wrong that the coach of our national team is linking a move to the NRL so closely to the award of international honours.

"None of us should lose sight of the fact that it is the Super League competition that has developed these players, and that all aspects of the game on this side of the world will benefit by them staying."

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