The 22-year-old Lilley has been playing for the Bulls on loan from the Rhinos, who had an option on his services for 2020, but has now signed a deal with Kear’s club until at least the end of 2021.
“We are over the moon to have him on board for the next two years,” said Kear. “He is clearly happy here and he is constantly improving week by week.”
Lilley has played a key role in Bradford’s run to the quarter-finals of the Coral Challenge Cup, kicking the winning drop goal against Featherstone before producing a man-of-the-match display in their shock sixth round win over his parent club.
He is set to be a central figure when the Bulls play Halifax in an all-Championship quarter-final at Odsal on Sunday, when a host of part-time players will have a chance to catch the eye.
The tie ensures a Championship presence in the last four of the Cup for the first time since 2006, when Hull KR beat Warrington in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final against eventual winners St Helens.
“I think it’s a major pat on the back for the competition,” Kear told a press conference at Odsal. “The Championship is a great competition where you really have to turn up week in, week out.
“I’ve always felt there’s been some really good players in the Championship and I think Super League clubs have been a little remiss not to recruit from the Championship.
“You’ve only to look at the likes of Alex Walmsley and Chris Hill, the game is littered with players who have learned their trade in the Championship before stepping up into Super League and more than holding their own.”
Halifax captain Scott Murrell is hoping to make up for the disappointment of missing out on the semi-finals 13 years ago, having been in the Hull KR side that beat a Wolves team that included Simon Grix, his current coach.
“I’m obviously not getting any younger and they are things you dream about as a kid, playing in a Challenge Cup semi-final,” the 33-year-old Murrell told the press conference.
“In 2006 we beat Grixy’s Wire in the quarter-finals but I got injured before the semi-final so I didn’t get a chance to play.
“So for me personally, it would be massive to play in a semi-final but we’ve got a massive game against Bradford first.”
Simon Grix confirmed that his older brother Scott will be available for Sunday’s tie following his arrival on loan from Huddersfield.