Kear in for long haul to turn Wales into top contender

John Kear.
John Kear.
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BATLEY BULLDOGS coach John Kear has achieved a notable, and perhaps unique, feat by taking charge of a third different international side.

Kear, 59, will manage Wales this autumn having succeeded Iestyn Harris, who left the role to take charge of Salford Red Devils in April.

His appointment follows earlier jobs with England, who he led in the 2000 World Cup, and a brief spell with France in 1997.

Famous for his Challenge Cup exploits, memorably masterminding Sheffield Eagles’ shock 1998 final win over Wigan Warriors and leading Hull FC to glory in 2005, his renowned ability to motivate players for knockout football should suit him to this task perfectly.

Kear, who continues his part-time role at Batley, faces France, Scotland and Ireland in the European Championships this year but is also employed for the 2017 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Wales were dire in last year’s World Cup, under-performing in losing all three games against the Cook Islands, USA and Italy.

But Kear, who is “delighted” to get the opportunity, said: “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: “John’s knowledge and proven ability to bring the very best out of his players makes him an ideal fit at this formative time.

“It was important to bring in someone who shares our values and is committed to our vision to be a top-four rugby league nation in governance and performance.

“John’s immediate challenge is to balance a young but very capable Wales squad into a winning team at this year’s European Championship and thereafter lay the foundation for success at the World Cup.”

Elsewhere, Salford Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash has confirmed his hopes of buying a club in not only Super League but the NRL, too.

The often controversial 55-year-old is interested in purchasing Newcastle Knights, the beleaguered Australian club currently in turmoil following the exit of Nathan Tinkler in May.

Former Salford player Lee Jewitt has signed a two-year deal at Castleford Tigers where he has impressed during the last three months following his arrival from French club Limoux.

Featherstone centre Sam Smeaton is set for his first game in nearly two years when he plays for their Under-20s side against Midlands RL on Saturday.

He injured his knee during training in the week leading up to Featherstone’s Championship Grand Final appearance versus Sheffield in September 2012.

Hull FC bring in James Cunningham and Richard Whiting for tomorrow’s trip to Wigan with Callum Lancaster dropped and Aaron Heremaia injured while Wakefield Trinity Wildcats centre Reece Lyne has re-signed until the end of 2017.