Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has pushed for his halfback Jarrod Mullen to be named for Country on Sunday afternoon.

Wayne Bennett says Queensland remains grateful it does not have a City-Country game – but reckons his Newcastle half Jarrod Mullen should be among the first players picked for Country in the annual fixture.

Bennett was pleased with the performance of Mullen in a 16-12 loss to Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night and believes the 27-year-old has been on course for a NSW call-up since his return from injury.

“Queensland loves the fact that we don’t play this (city-Country) game,” said Bennett.

“Jarrod? Of course it will (help him). He’s a much more mature player and he’s a real lynchpin in our team. He’s only in his third game back. Two of them were outstanding and one was good.”

The teams for the game – as well as Friday’s trans-Tasman Test match at Allianz Stadium – will be named on Sunday.

Like Bennett, captain Kurt Gidley believed the Knights deserved to get more out of Saturday’s game, played in front of the recovering Alex McKinnon.

“There was plenty of desire from our guys, that’s for sure,” he said.

“That’s why it’s tough to take sometimes. You put so much into a game, you get battered around a bit, and you don’t get the result.

“It’s disappointing but there’s also some positives to take out of it as well because we haven’t played with that much desire consistently this year.”

Bennett was not upset about the video refereeing decision that gave Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman a late match-winning try.

“I could have lived with either decision,” he said. “Either way, I’m not blowing up about it.”