veteran COACH John Kear believes rugby league’s new structure is raising standards at his club and in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Kear feels his Batley Bulldogs side are way ahead of where they were 12 months ago and he said the Boxing Day derby with Dewsbury Rams illustrated how competitive the second tier will be this season.
“I was very happy with it,” he said of the 18-16 win. “I thought the players showed where they are and it showed we are miles in front of the previous year.
“I thought the standard of the game from both teams was very high and it’s not only ourselves who can feel confident going forward, Dewsbury can also knowing they will be competitive in this division.”
Bradford Bulls and London Broncos have dropped from Super League into what Kear feels will be the toughest-ever Championship and he said that means levels have to rise.
“The players have prepared very well,” Kear added. “The intensity of the Boxing Day game and how the players have prepared was in part determined by the fact everybody – directors, players and coaches – knows how tough this year is going to be.
“The game last week was an indication of what’s in front of us, but everyone’s acquitting themselves very well.”
Bulldogs came through with no major injury concerns and Kear reckons Bulldogs will be in even better shape when some of the players who missed last week’s match return to action.
“We got through with a good performance and there was some good horseflesh sitting on the sidelines,” said the coach, whose men face Featherstone Rovers in their next warm-up game on January 18.
“We have got Luke Blake, Keegan Hirst, Ayden Faal and Sam Scott to come in and when you look at that and also at the performance the players put in, we can feel pretty pleased with where we are.”