FORMER Castleford Tigers player John Kear (pictured) has been appointed as the new head coach of ambitious Co-operative Championship club Batley.
The 56-year-old former England coach, who left Wakefield after last Friday’s final Super League match of the season, succeeds former Great Britain prop Karl Harrison, who has joined Championship rivals Halifax.
“I was very flattered by the offer,” Kear said.
“It’s a club that has progressed markedly in the last couple of years under Karl’s tutelage and I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to raise the bar even higher.”
Kear, who was England’s coach at the 2000 World Cup and has been involved throughout the 16 seasons of Super League, will be part time with the Bulldogs and operate without a contract.
“It’s a different challenge and that appeals to me,” said Kear, who will continue to combine coaching with his work in the media.
“It’s taken me out of my comfort zone. I’m used to the luxury of full-time athletes at my beck and call.
“It’s really refreshing and it will allow me to pursue other interests during the day.”
Kear was unveiled at the first press conference to be held by Batley since the current board took over in 1997 and becomes only their fifth coach in that time, each of them working on a handshake.
“That indicates the importance we place on this announcement,” said Bulldogs chairman Kevin Nicholas.
“Karl was fantastic for this club but he said from the outset that if his former club Halifax came in for him he would more than likely go and Halifax have acted with integrity throughout.
“Without advertising, we received applications from four quality coaches - we’ve never had people queuing up to be coach before - but, once John became available, it had to be him.
“There is nobody with more experience. He is a genuine person and he’s got passion for the sport.”
Kear last worked as a part-time coach when he was appointed at Bramley in 1989.
His first involvement in Super League came in the inaugural year in 1996, when he was a stop-gap appointment as head coach of Paris St Germain.
He joined Sheffield Eagles, initially as assistant to Phil Larder, in 1997 and after stepping into the hotseat famously guided them to their Challenge Cup win over Wigan in 1998.
He also coached the club following their merger with Huddersfield and held assistant posts at Wigan and Hull before succeeding Shaun McRae at the latter club in 2003.
Sacked by Hull despite engineering another cup final upset, this time against Leeds in 2005, he took over a struggling Wakefield side in 2006 and helped them avoid relegation against the odds.
With Batley’s assistant coach Lee Greenwood following Harrison to Halifax, Kear will appoint his own number two, which could be Australian Glenn Morrison unless he secures a playing contract at his old club Bradford.
One of Kear’s first matches in charge will be against Wakefield in a pre-season friendly arranged as part of the deal that took half-back Gareth Moore from Batley to the Wildcats earlier this year.