Bradford Bulls coach John Kear wants to complete the project he started by leading the club back into Super League after penning a new two-year contract.
The vastly experienced coach has committed to the club until the end of 2022, taking a pay cut to do so alongside all of his backroom staff.
He says the main driving force for that is continuing to lead a revival of the four-time Super League champions after having guided them out of League One in 2018.
Kear said: “The most pleasing thing for me is that this allows me to finish the job that we’ve started.
“That is to attempt to get the club stable, progress up the leagues and hopefully get it back into Super League within that timeframe.
“That will be difficult because there is going to be a suppression of player wages for everybody and it will be interesting to see who drops out of the game and who emerges.
“These are times that not even a Wayne Bennett or Tim Sheens – who have been in and around the game for such a long time – have experienced.
“But if anything this period of kicking our heels has made me hungrier.
“I enjoy being in and around groups of people, part of this job is to do just that so it makes sense to continue it.”
Kear has just four players currently contracted for next season in Matty Dawson-Jones, Jordan Lilley, Steve Crossley and Ross Oakes.
Retention and recruitment planning has already been done and Kear feels that, by him and his staff taking a pay cut to stay, they have set a lead for the club’s players.
Assistant coach Mark Dunning, strength and conditioning coach Adam Simpson, head of youth Leigh Beittie and medical staff Matt Duke and Aaron Scholes have agreed to remain alongside Kear.
The Bulls boss added: “Taking a pay cut will be the norm rather than the exception for everybody in any walk of life, not just Rugby League.
“This is a societal problem; I’m not pretending to be a martyr here, it’s a practicality.
“The reality is that we will have to ask players to do the same, and it’s whether they want to finish what they’ve started too and make sure we still have a club and a game.
“I really do feel as though the club on the administrative front has turned a corner now.
“That’s why as a staff we were all so keen to stay together as a group and achieve what we set out to.”
Bulls chief executive Mark Sawyer said: “Obviously the sport is going through some tricky and uncertain times at the moment but this is being felt everywhere, by all sorts of businesses.
“The club and its backers are doing their very best to navigate ourselves through the current turmoil and our long term objectives remain unchanged.
“To achieve that we have to start thinking about the future and who we wanted to lead the charge and JK was the obvious solution.
“John has been extremely helpful and understanding during the current crisis and I feel the club can only go from strength to strength under his leadership.”
BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Craig Lingard says he is planning to remain at the club next year, despite being out of contract like the majority of his squad.
The Bulldogs’ all-time record try scorer has only been in charge for five league matches after succeeding Matt Diskin, winning one.
There have been no talks yet about a contract extension, but Lingard wants to continue the job he has started.
Lingard explained: “I’m on a one-year deal that’s up at the end of this season, and that’s the same situation as most of the guys.
“I think there’s only George Senior who signed a two-year deal at the start of the season.
“I know that the club has been contacting current players to potentially get them signed on, but also to put them in the picture financially.
“There is likely to be some sort of movement, whether with contract or match payments and they want to get the players’ feelings on it.
“There have been no discussions yet about me staying next year or not, but I’m planning as though I will be.
“It’s a difficult one, because we’ve only had five games, but I’m certainly planning on being here.”
Lingard has also outlined how players’ day jobs will be crucial to any restart plans in the Championship in the coming weeks and months.
He added: “The players’ jobs have to be their priorities as that is their main source of income.
“We’ll need to know whether those employers – especially if they are key workers – will allow them to go and play rugby in that environment.
“It’s a bit less complicated in Super League, because that is their primary job and it’s easier for them to self isolate.
“But it’s a difficult one for lads that are part-time and the people they work for.”
YORK CITY KNIGHTS coach James Ford was left “impressed and excited” by a tour of the city’s new community stadium last week.
Ford, Knights Chairman Jon Flatman and sponsors of the club were shown around the new facility, which is currently working through a snagging list and the safety certificate process before being formally opened.
And Ford believes the move to the stadium will help the Knights continue their development of recent years.
He said: “I was really impressed.
“The playing surface – as you’d expect for a new facility – was immaculate and it’s a wide field that I’d have enjoyed playing on.
“I’m sure there will be some entertaining rugby played on there.
“The corporate facilities and sponsors’ boxes are very well put together and should help the club move further forward off the field.
“The dressing rooms, though they’ve not been decorated yet, look great, and it was all just really exciting.
“It should be used as another real positive to move the club further forward.”
Meanwhile Ford would not be drawn on speculation that the Knights could be set to sign Toronto halfback Blake Wallace.
Ford said: “We’re pleased we’re being linked with players of that ilk because it shows we’re on the right path as a club.
“We’re always looking to retain our best players and add to that, but we won’t be commenting on any player that doesn’t play for us.”
SWINTON LIONS director Steve Wild says victory in the RFL’s World Cup of Shirts event on social media show the club’s historical importance as they look to build for the future.
The iconic blue jersey with a white vee, which Swinton wore in back-to-back title triumphs in the early 1960s, beat a host of rivals in the competition, including Great Britain’s 1988 shirt in the final.
Wild said: “When I was contacted by Ian Jackson of our Supporters Trust, suggesting that we entered our iconic back-to-back Championship winning jersey of 1963 and 1964, I initially just thought why not, simply adopting the old adage that any publicity is good publicity.
“But once we got nominated and started winning the various rounds it all became strangely compelling.
“Then to beat the national team’s colours in the final was fantastic.
“I think there were two reasons why we won.
Firstly, our media team and supporters performed a terrific job in promoting and sharing the campaign, and secondly, and most importantly, it’s a fantastic and iconic kit.
“There’s something about that historic jersey that is symbolic of a golden age of Rugby League generally, not just of Swinton Lions.
“Its simple, yet classic, design, complete with rampant lion badge, worn at a time when badges on shirts were rare, makes it instantly recognisable in the Rugby League world.
“It’s nice of course to be recognised as a historically important club, but we’d also like to think we’re building a promising future as well.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS utility back Craig Hall says his side showed enough in the opening weeks of the season to suggest they can be genuine contenders if the Championship restarts.
Rovers won all four of their opening matches and Hall insists there would have been more to come once the grounds firm up in better weather.
He told the club’s weekly Q&A social media session: “There’s been games we’ve won while not playing too well and we’ve showed there’s still improvement in the team.
“The London game was the best 80 minutes we’ve put together. We put a bit of a statement out to the rest of the league that we’re not just here to make the numbers up.
“To go and do that to a London team was impressive, although obviously they’ve lost a few players since coming down from Super League, but they’ve still got a strong squad.
“In the bad weather at Batley and Bradford we saw the games out well without playing to our ability.
“We’re quietly confident that if we can get back playing and the weather’s good we can throw the ball about a bit and enjoy our rugby.
“All the lads are chomping at the bit.”
OLDHAM Chairman Chris Hamilton says the Roughyeds are among the clubs finding it impossible to plan for 2021 with uncertainty over this year and next.
Matt Diskin’s side was expected to be involved in the battle at the bottom following promotion, though were outside the relegation places when the season paused after winning at Whitehaven.
Diskin and players Matthew Fletcher and Lewis Charnock are the only people at the club with a contract for next season.
Hamilton said: “We’re not in the best of situations but what we are learning in all this is that it’s difficult for everybody and there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution to it.
“We have to keep at the forefront of our minds that this is a set of circumstances that nobody has foreseen or been in before, and there will have to be compromises for everybody.”
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE’S participation in any restarted Championship campaign continues to be assessed.
In fixture proposals sent to clubs via the RFL on Friday afternoon, the report made specific reference to the French club.
It read: “We will continue to work through the additional complications involving the participation of Toulouse.
“This includes both the quarantine rules and also how to maintain a ‘bio secure’ environment during travel to and from France.”
LONDON BRONCOS frontrower Rob Butler is attracting attention in Super League for 2021.
The 22-year-old impressed in 24 games in the top flight last year despite the Broncos’ eventual relegation.
He is one of a dozen players out of contract at the club, with coach Danny Ward last week admitting that planning for the future is impossible until there is some certainty over both promotion and relegation and central funding for next year.
Butler was called up to the England Knights squad last year and started in the front row in the 38-6 win over Jamaica at Headingley.
WIDNES VIKINGS utility back Jack Johnson will lead a host of Rugby League players running a cross-country half marathon this Friday, June 12, to raise money for the Stroke Association.
Johnson’s father suffered a mini-stroke last month, and although Johnson has reported that his dad is improving via his Instagram account, he is now keen to raise funds for the charity.
Johnson wrote: “Luckily after lots of tests the signs are great and he is doing really well.
“However, this is not always the case and strokes affect many families and we are very lucky.”
Johnson will be joined in running the distance by Vikings team-mate Pat Moran plus Super League players Josh Charnley, Dec Patton, Tom Lineham, Ellis Robson, Harvey Livett, Kevin Brown and Brad Dwyer.
Donations can be made at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jackjohnson1996.
DEWSBURY RAMS’ former coach and president Jack Addy will be remembered at a thanksgiving service at Dewsbury Crematorium today (Monday).
The club’s chaplain Cliff Allchin last week invited Rams’ supporters to share their own short tributes to the popular Addy, which will be read out at the service.
Addy died last month at the age of 81 following a battle with dementia.
A group of former Dewsbury players raising funds to build a statue of Addy at the Tetley’s Stadium have passed £5,000 of their £6,500 goal.
League Express readers can donate to the fund at www.gofundme.com/f/jack-addy-legacy-sculptor.
HALIFAX have partnered with a new lottery provider with the aim of providing fans with bigger prizes.
A club statement read: “During the lockdown we have not been idle and as always, we continue to try and improve the CashFax Lottery for our members giving them better value for their weekly membership.
“With that in mind, we have partnered with a new lottery provider, NYCDA (National Youth and Community Development Association), that will give us the chance of even bigger weekly prizes and a huge rollover prize.”
The club says that in the short term prizes will be reduced for around a month, but then rapidly rise to become “the biggest lottery that we at Halifax RLFC have ever taken part in”.
SHEFFIELD EAGLES have begun tentative talks with the club’s current squad members about their 2021 plans.
That hasn’t got to the stage of contract offers being made, but instead club officials are hoping to gauge players’ feelings about potentially staying at the club.
The Eagles already have a number of players contracted for next season on two-year deals.
That group includes Joel Farrell, Matt James, Ryan Millar, Connor Bower, Scott Wheeldon and Robbie Ward.
WHITEHAVEN have started to look at possible signings for the 2021 season.
Director Andrew Canavan explained: “We’re always scouting players, albeit this season it’s having to be purely by videos.
“Most of our squad are contracted for next season anyway, though there are a couple of positions we are looking to strengthen.
“The main one is a number seven, after we were let down this season with a last minute U-turn.“