WITH JUST four games of the 2016 season remaining Batley Bulldogs boss John Kear is targeting two more victories to end his five-year tenure on a high.
The experienced coach, who has won two Challenge Cups during his glittering career with Sheffield and Hull FC in 1998 and 2005 respectively, departs Mount Pleasant in five weeks’ time to embark on a new chapter as director of rubgy at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
“It’s going to be sad when I leave, I really do like Batley and I wish the club all the very best for the future,” said Kear.
“I’m leaving on good terms, which is always a bonus, and I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved with this group of players this year.
“Against all the odds we managed to finish third in the Championship and make it into the Qualifiers, which no-one expected from us at the start of the year.
“As a coach when you take over a club you hope to take them in the right direction and leave them in a better position than when you first took over and I feel I’ve achieved that with Batley.
“I can’t take all the credit however, because the players have been absolutely excellent this season and done everything I’ve asked of them, particularly during the regular season.
“But what this group of players and I have achieved this year ranks as one of my greatest achievements in the game, there’s no doubt about that.
“The Challenge Cup wins were obviously great, but the fact we finished higher in the Championship this year than teams who have spent five times the amount of money than we have on players makes our achievement that little bit more special.”
Batley’s qualification for the ‘middle 8s’ this term means in-coming coach Matt Diskin will have substantial funds available to strengthen the current squad as he prepares for the difficult task of proving Batley’s achievements in 2016 weren’t a fluke.
“I’ll be rooting for Batley next season and I think Matt is a promising young coach who could achieve big things in the game,” added Kear. “I think that Matt and Batley will be the perfect fit and I’m excited to see how they will fare.”
But Kear remains focused on the final four games and hopes to end the Qualifiers with a flourish, starting with a win at home to Featherstone Rovers on Sunday (3pm).
Kear said: “The players have trained really hard this week and have shown some good aggression which is always encouraging.
“We’re all desperate to get off the mark in the Qualifiers and on paper this is our best chance of finding a win, but we’ll certainly be aiming for more in the coming weeks as well.”
On the injury front Batley were dealt a blow with the news that winger Shaun Ainscough is unlikely to play again this year.
He picked up a knee injury against Hull KR and underwent a scan yesterday (Thursday) after Bulldogs medical staff failed to get to the bottom of the issue.