JOHN KEAR wants to have the same effect on Wakefield Trinity W ildcats as former Australia coach Tim Sheens has had on Salford Red Devils when he returns as head of rugby in 2017.
He will work with Chris Chester, confirmed as Trinity’s new head coach with immediate effect yesterday, in a partnership he hopes will help revive the West Yorkshire club’s flagging fortunes.
The vastly-experienced Kear, of course, was Wakefield coach himself between 2006 and 2011, and has been with in-form Championship club Batley Bulldogs ever since.
Chester, sacked as Hull KR chief just last month, is still aged only 37 and Kear, who was his coach when Hull FC won the Challenge Cup in 2005, is relishing the chance to reunite and help him develop.
The 61-year-old, who will leave his Batley role at the end of the season but retain his position as Wales head coach, told The Yorkshire Post: “I hope I can help him along. I’ve known Chris a long time, since he was 16, in fact, and I was coaching him for England Schoolboys.
“I get on well with him. He’s a talented young man and had success in his first year as a head coach (reaching the 2015 Challenge Cup final with Hull KR).
“I think it will be a really good partnership and you only have to look at how Salford have benefited from Tim Sheens working with Ian Watson to see what can be done. I can’t see why we can’t do something similar at Trinity.”
Sheens, 65, was named Salford director of rugby last year and has clearly aided the development of 39-year-old head coach Watson.
Having been consigned to the Qualifiers then, their team has improved beyond recognition in the early part of this competition.
The role of head of rugby is becoming increasingly prevalent in rugby league. Hull FC have another of their 2005 heroes – Motu Tony – in that role, Hull KR appointed Jamie Peacock in such a position before Christmas while Kris Radlinski, with a similar remit, is titled as rugby general manager at Wigan Warriors.
Kear, who also coached Chester briefly when Wigan assistant in 2001, already has legendary status at Wakefield following his famous exploits in 2006, coming in and inspiring them to four wins from their final six games to avoid relegation.
He also helped them to their highest Super League position of fifth in 2009 and, after the acrimonious exit of Australian head coach Brian Smith, who quit last week, Trinity chairman Michael Carter will hope he will bring some shape to the club’s footballing department.
Trinity, who finished bottom in 2015, have just one win from their opening six fixtures.
“Wakefield is obviously a club I hold dear to my heart,” added Kear. “I had five and a half happy years there and I’m now getting to extend that period. I’d like to think my first tenure was successful and I can’t see why this one won’t be either.
“It’s as great a challenge as we had in 2006 and obviously we need to stabilise the playing side of things as quickly as possible.
“My immediate job is with Batley, though – and we may yet see Wakefield in the Middle Eights.”
For Wakefield-born Chester, the chance to take charge of another Super League club so soon after losing his job at Rovers is a real bonus and one he is adamant he will make the most of. Ironically, it was KR’s 14-12 home defeat against Trinity that effectively saw him removed at Craven Park, but he now has the opportunity to show his qualities elsewhere.
“I am delighted to become head coach of Wakefield Wildcats, especially as it is my hometown club and a club with a lot of traditions,” he said, his first game in charge, to add to the irony, being at Hull FC tomorrow night.
“I have been stood on these terraces as a young kid and I am really proud that I now get to coach this great team.”
The likes of former Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins, current Rovers assistant Willie Poching and Dewsbury Rams chief Glenn Morrison were thought to be in the running for the Trinity job.
However, Carter has plumped for Chester ,who he says can “take the club forward” while Kear’s “vast knowledge of the game” can aid them further still.
Huddersfield Giants centre Sam Wood, 19, has signed a one-year full-time deal with the club.