Wales coach John Kear says he would prefer no internationals this year

Drew Darbyshire

Wales coach John Kear says he would prefer there to be no international matches take place this year due to concerns over player welfare.

It was confirmed on Thursday morning that the World Cup has officially been postponed to 2022 following Australia and New Zealand’s decision to withdraw, citing safety fears due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kear, who was set for his second World Cup as Wales coach this autumn, says playing more games at the end of this year would put extra strain on the players given the longer schedule in 2022.

“For the women’s and the wheelchair game, I think it would be sensible to play some internationals,” Kear told BBC’s 5 Live Rugby League podcast. “I’m not so sure about the men’s game.

“I don’t think unless you’ve actually been in and around the playing camps that people realise what the players have given up and the sacrifices they’ve made and we need to look after the players a little bit with regards to this.

“With Super League players, they are playing on a Thursday and Monday on numerous occasions and there’s only so many times you can flog a dead horse. We are pushing them to the nth degree.

“I know Shaun (Wane) will want an England game but I think the best preparation for Wales and England would be not to play because if they are going to start the Super League season early next year in order to get the Grand Final in so there’s preparation for the World Cup, the players need to rest and recover in the men’s game.

“Look at the number of games that have been called off and look at the number of injuries there, we need to think about that.

“I honestly think that the best prep would be when the Grand Final is there, that’s it. Let the players rest and recover, have as good a pre-season as you can and get the Super League season and the Challenge Cup all out of the way so that there can be a real sensible schedule to next year. ”

Kear says he would like there to be a window in next year’s season as part of World Cup preparations.

“If they were going to start next year early, I would block off a weekend for an international weekend as part of preparation for the World Cup in June or July and make sure every team can have a trial just prior to the World Cup,” he added.

“For me, I would close the men’s international game down after the Grand Final but then I would ensure next year there is a structure to enable England and all the other European nations the best possible preparation for the World Cup.

“It’s important that England do well, I’m the Welsh coach but I hope England do well. The best thing that will come out of the World Cup for me in 2022 would be for Australia and New Zealand not to win it. I’d sooner anybody win it rather than them.”