John Kear grateful for Wales return against France after over 1300 days out of action

John Kear Championship

Wales head coach John Kear says he’s relieved that his side are finally returning to action today after more than three years out of the game.

The Dragons take on France in Albi in a mid-season international. Kicking off at 2:30PM, it will be Wales’ first game since November 11, 2018.

On that occasion, they beat Ireland 40-8, a distant memory for Kear. The boss has been in charge of the national side since 2014.

“It has been an intensely frustrating period for us,” said Kear.

“We played in the World Cup in 2017, and then in 2018 we had a really good qualifying competition. We lost to France, but we beat Scotland & Ireland and came second, so that qualified us.

“We felt we were growing as a group, and we had great buy-in from players which is obviously essential as a tier-two nation. We were making progress but then we had two fallow years.

“It has been frustrating for everyone which was one of the reasons why I wanted to play this mid-season game. We are hoping to play a trial game prior to the World Cup and then we should be up to speed. There are some people who have jumped out of the woodwork for this game and I’m really looking forward to seeing them.”

Absence makes the Heart grow Fonder

Kear, 67, was appointed as head coach of Championship side Widnes earlier this month. He left his position at the helm of Bradford at the end of April. The Vikings are the ninth different club side which the Wales boss has headed up.

Also a former head coach of both England and France internationally, Kear is vastly experienced. Speaking prior to today’s game, he added, “We just need to play to practice everything.

“From the logistics, to getting kit out to the players, to getting the squad out on to the field, everything is important.

“[In the time we have been out of action], it has been a couple of steps back, you’ve got to be brutally honest.

“We will regain it, but at the minute, it feels like we have taken a couple of steps back and that’s why we need to just get out there this weekend. We’ve got to enjoy being in and around each other and be proud to represent Wales!”

Welsh Wizards at the World Cup

Come October, Wales will be entering their third consecutive World Cup. They have failed to win a game in both of the previous campaigns. Kear admits the side are a work in progress again this time around.

“In regards to the World Cup, I think our group was called the ‘group of death’ when it was drawn out because we are with the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Tonga. We know it is going to be very difficult and physical.

“I thought it would be better playing a team like France [in mid-season] which is stacked full of outstanding Super League players than perhaps playing another tier-two nation and testing ourselves. We are dipping our toes in and we are diving into the deep end, big style.”

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About Drew Darbyshire 8035 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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