Kear lands Wales job

BATLEY BULLDOGS coach John Kear has taken over as Wales head coach, but will maintain his role at the Mount Pleasant club.

The former England and France boss will take charge of Wales for the first time this autumn when they tackle France, Scotland and Ireland in the European Championships.

The 59-year old is no stranger to international coaching and was previously head coach of the England team in the 2000 World Cup, leading them to the semi-finals, and of France back in 1997.

Kear has held several coaching roles at Super League clubs – including a six-season stint at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats where he led the side to fifth, their highest-ever Super League finish.

Since 2012 Kear has been head coach at the Bulldogs, a role he will keep alongside his Wales appointment.

And the Batley chief insists his new role could combine perfectly with his current position at Mount Pleasant – and could even lead to a Welsh international joining his club side in the future.

Kear said: “I’m really delighted to have this opportunity as the new head coach of Wales Rugby League.

“I’m a big believer in international rugby league as my background shows. I really think that I can make a big contribution to the game in Wales that will allow us to qualify and do well in Rugby League World Cup 2017. A strong international game is essential for rugby league.

“The more competitive teams we have at the highest level the better and it’s my challenge to turn Wales into one of those top teams.

“I’m really looking forward to a long relationship with Wales Rugby League as we build for 2017 and beyond.”

Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff said: “The appointment of John Kear as head coach brings a wealth of experience forged at the highest level of the game to Wales Rugby League.

“His knowledge and proven ability to bring the very best out of his players makes him an ideal fit for Wales at this formative time.”

Kear, whose focus remains in Batley, takes his side to second-placed outfit Featherstone Rovers on Sunday (3pm).

The Big Fellas Stadium side have invested heavily this season and currently sit just one place behind runaway leaders Leigh Centurions.

Batley, who staked their claim for a play-off spot with a draw against Halifax last weekend, will be confident coming into the fixture after narrowly losing the reverse tie 32-26 at Mount Pleasant.

Batley will be without Miles Greenwood, with the full-back ruled out for four to six weeks with a broken thumb.

Also unavailable for the Featherstone game  is Keegan Hirst – currently on loan from the Rovers – who is not allowed to play against his parent club.

Despite these losses Kear is unlikely to be bolstered by any dual-registered players, as an injury-hit Huddersfield Giants are unlikely to offer any squad members to the Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, the club has also received recognition in the Championship team of the week, with both winger Alex Brown and prop forward Byron Smith named in the line-up.

• Batley Bulldogs supporters club will be running a bus to Featherstone on Sunday.

It leaves Branch Road at 1pm picking up at the Tapp Rooms, The Commercial and in Birstall. Prices are £8 for adults and £4 for kids, contact Dave King on 07428 107632 after 4pm or text any time for more information.

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