JOHN Kear called on rugby league to ditch its club-centric focus if it really wants to grow – and get his brother and his mates more interested.
Catalans quartet Ben Garcia, Mickael Goudemand, Julian Bousquet and Ben Julien showed their Super League class with tries as the Dragons wilted in Albi’s 35-degree heat and high winds, losing 34-10 to France.
But boss Kear – in charge of the side for the first time in almost FOUR YEARS – believes it is now time for internationals to take centre stage, with his brother’s views convincing him.
He said: “I’m frustrated, not just because I’m an international coach. I care about the sport and the only way we’re going to grow and become a major sporting player is by having a strong, competitive international game.
“There certainly needs to be an emphasis on that. We need to be more outward-than inward-looking. The international game is vital, especially when you look at the eyes on the sport, its profile and possible sponsorship.
“My brother lives in Shrewsbury, he and his mates will go and watch England v Combined Nations All Stars – they’re not bothered about Warrington and Wigan. You’ve got to put that perspective on it and decide, ‘Do we want to properly grow the game or not?’”
After 1,316 days – since November 11, 2018 – Wales were back in Test action. Kear admitted it felt like things had been disbanded.
Part-timers took Friday and Monday off work to play and teacher Rhodri Lloyd missed out as his school is having an Ofsted inspection.
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But as they prepare for the World Cup’s ‘group of death’ after drawing Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands, the coach insisted: “All we asked for was a resilient effort and we got that. We’ve expanded our player pool with six debutants and we’ve started playing again as a Wales team.”
Performances indicators were met, all bar holding the ball close to France’s line. Had Matty Fozard done so, Wales may have led on Rhys Williams’ record-breaking 31st appearance but after another promising position was spurned, Garcia and Goudemand grabbed first half tries.
Mike Butt’s try from Luis Roberts’ offload got Wales on the scoreboard after Eloi Pelissier’s score 80 seconds into the second half. However, the NRL players Kear hopes will be with him by a warm-up game, are needed – Championship and League One players are not enough for the World Cup and Salford’s Morgan Escare helped himself to 10 points through a try and three goals.
Dalton Grant’s try made it double figures for Wales but Kear, whose side next plays on October 8, admitted: “We were beaten by a better team but in the second half, we had two sets at their end and scored two tries.”
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