The first thing IMG must do in their new partnership with the RFL is to reduce the number of games in a rugby league season.
That’s the stark warning from the Wales head coach John Kear who has told Love Rugby League that the saturated club season is harming home nations’ hopes of building any kind of depth to the international game.
Global Management Company IMG will look to “reimagine” rugby league after agreeing a 12-year deal earlier this year.
And speaking on the latest Love Rugby League Podcast, Kear has told clubs they need to think of the bigger picture rather than their own bank accounts, with a streamlined season the best way forward.
John Kear: We overwork our players
“If clubs say they are losing home games then get your marketing people to do their job and fill the stadium. You are better with 10 or 11 games full than 14 games half full,” says the incoming Widnes boss.
“You only have to look at State of Origin and the Australian national team.
“When they play representative rugby league they ain’t tired. We have it with England football, Liverpool players play 63 games for the club and then we want them to play well for England!
“We do similar things, we overwork our players. The first thing IMG have got to do is reduce the number of domestic club games. One game per week, no Easter weekends or midweek games.”
Kear backs more support for international rugby league
In a wide-ranging discussion about the state of the game on Love Rugby League’s latest weekly podcast, Kear insists he is excited about what could be ahead for the sport in the coming.
“One of the things IMG has really got in their favour is that nothing is off the table. I feel they really need to look at international rugby league, see its priorities within the game and attempt to grow it.
“International rugby league is what gets eyes on the sport. People in London will watch if England are playing. People will watch in Cardiff if Wales are playing or Edinburgh if Scotland are playing.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to get it right. We’ve had lots of goes, I’m not sure we’ve got it right at the minute but it’s a good opportunity to move forward and grow the game.
“Whenever there has been restructuring there has been hidden agendas and you aren’t going to get turkeys voting for Christmas. If you have someone with fresh eyes I think you can come up with a pretty good solution that can take us forward as a game.”