SURPRISE PACKAGE Wakefield Trinity will have something to prove next season, new head of rugby John Kear says.
Wakefield finished eighth in Super League in 2016, but would have ended the weekly rounds below Salford Red Devils if the Manchester side had not been deducted six points for a previous breach of the salary cap.
The punishment condemned Salford to 10th spot at the end of the regular season and Kear admitted that cast a shadow over Wakefield’s achievement.
The Belle Vue outfit were the competition’s big improvers after finishing 11 points adrift at the foot of the table in 2015 and only surviving through victory over Kingstone Press Championship club Bradford Bulls in the million pound match.
But Kear said: “We came eighth, but people keep telling us Wakefield only did that because Salford had points deducted.
“Straight away that gives us a bit of focus.”
Kear, who will turn 62 tomorrow, has rejoined Trinity in a new role, four years after stepping down as coach.
He famously kept Wakefield in Super League against the odds after initially arriving at the club in 2006 and was in charge until the end of 2011.
Now, after a successful spell at the helm of Championship part-timers Batley Bulldogs, he is relishing being back in the top-flight.
“It is great to be back,” said Kear, who coached Sheffield Eagles and Hull to Challenge Cup final victory and also had spells in charge of Bramley and Huddersfield Giants.
“The thing I am enjoying most is training in daylight and I have got my evenings to myself!
“It is really good fun, you can really cross the t’s and dot the i’s when you have a lot of time with the players, which you get in pre-season.
“You can explain things and practice things which you might not get to do in the season.
“At Batley we trained every other night in pre-season, so we had seven sessions in 14 days – and we are doing six days a week here at the moment, so it is a big difference.”
Chris Chester has continued as Trinity’s head coach and Kear said: “We are working together.
“I see my job as adding to what they have already got. What I hopefully can do is improve what is already there.
“Last year was a very good year and we are hoping to back that up and improve on it.”
Trinity began pre-season training at the start of this month and Kear is encouraged by what he has seen so far.
“It is going really well,” he said. “Obviously they are doing a high volume of training with varying intensity, but they are getting the miles in their legs and working very hard on individual skills as well as organisation of the team. We feel really pleased with what has happened up to now and hopefully we can maintain the effort and application. Everybody is in now, working alongside each other and it has been very positive.”
Trinity are expected to complete the signing of Australian forward Mitch Allgood from Hull KR.
Kear said there could be “one or two” more additions before the season begins in February.