WHEN I was first getting into rugby league, the Great Britain era was in its autumn.

Still, I was brought up on a diet of it being the pinnacle of the game on these shores and that pulling on the red, white and blue was the ultimate honour.

For me, it was getting up early to watch Sean Long dazzle the Aussies and Jamie Peacock going toe-to-toe with Willie Mason.

I was there the night a fresh-faced Sam Burgess put a charging Fuifui Moimoi on his backside. Even though I was sat on the other side of the ground, the sound rattled through my 16-year-old body as if it happened 10 feet away.

I will not admit to having as many GB memories as others, but I was still thrilled to see the Lions concept being revived.

Unfortunately, from the moment the squad was picked right through to defeats to Tonga and New Zealand – twice – the tour has been shambolic.

Let me get one thing clear straight away – the commitment of the players to the jersey cannot and should not be questioned.

However, over these past few weeks the Lions badge has been criminally devalued and for me, the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Wayne Bennett.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me has not been the tepid, uninspiring performances on the pitch, but rather the head coach’s open stance on this tour being a glorified trial for his England side.

By the same token, he appeared to suggest that his continued ignorance of St Helens speedster Regan Grace had a little to do with him being Welsh rather than English.

It may not have been the defining factor – I believe logistical issues played a part as well – but the fact it was even part of the conversation is astounding.

I get the distinct impression that this job does not mean a great deal to Bennett.

Yes, there is an Ashes series and a home World Cup coming up in the next couple of years, but that is besides the point.

This is not England. This is Great Britain.

If there was to be another Lions series, I would advocate the coach being completely independent.

Appointing Bennett, who already had a contract with the RFL, was the easy and perhaps logical step at the time, but it clearly has not worked.

Having a coach fully independent of all four countries who could fully commit to the role is an absolute must – the Great Britain job is one of three Bennett juggles alongside his commitments with England and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Bennett’s RFL contract expires after Saturday’s final GB test against Papua New Guinea.

Even if he stays as England coach – and even that must surely be in doubt – the Great Britain job should go elsewhere.