Alex Walmsley says John Kear gave him the belief and skillset to transform from an amateur player into one of the most fearsome forwards in the game.
The St Helens prop signed for Kear’s Batley after a trial in 2012. And 10 years on, he is expected to be an England starter in the forthcoming World Cup.
“He was a big part of the player I’ve become,” Walmsley says of Kear on the latest Love Rugby League Podcast.
“I was on trial at Batley and just wanted to play rugby league. I was having the time of my life at my club Dewsbury Celtic and didn’t want to lose my amateur status. So I went on trial to see if it was for me. I got offered a deal and signed.
“I played the full season and Kear was great, the perfect coach at the time for my development.”
Alex Walmsley pays glowing tribute to John Kear
Walmsley is now celebrating his testimonial year at Saints as they bid to win a record fourth Grand Final in a row.
The 6ft 5in, 18 stone powerhouse has given an insight into what Kear did to unlock his own talents; and what has made the Wales and Widnes boss such a successful head coach.
“It was nothing too technical,” Walmsley said. “Just getting used to the physical side of the game as a young prop forward.
“If you can run hard and tackle hard you have a half decent chance. That is what John got out of me and developed in me.
“He was quite big in me signing for St Helens and put a strong voice in there and really helped me with that transition. That is why John has had the success he has had as a coach. The teams he has coached from an underdog environment shows the kind of person he is. John gets the best out of you.
“At Batley I had the reputation that I still have now at Saints, of not being able to play the ball, catch the ball or pass. Things you take for granted in the academy. John gets the best out of you. He has had a big impact on my career and where I am now.”