Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear believes that Leigh Centurions have justified the merits of the Super 8s league structure with promotion this year.
Kear, who has played a significant role in the success of the Qualifiers himself thanks to Batley’s participation in the middle eight, believes the Centurions’ run of form which has led to promotion means that there is a clear benefit to the system – and says he expects the Championship sides to be just as strong in 2017.
“I think Leigh have justified the system, they’ve gone up by rights,” Kear said.
“They’ve beaten three out of three Super League teams, their playing roster is great so they’re a Super League team. We’ve just got to make sure that teams like Batley have got to be better next year.
“I’m certain they will be because we’ve learned some serious lessons and we’ve got better throughout, but we were like rabbits in the headlights at first.
“Whoever goes down will be strong; Bradford look like they’re recruiting well, there’s London in there and Batley and Featherstone will be better for the experience. It’s going to be tough to get in that four and from a Super League perspective, my job at Wakefield is the other way round now – to help them avoid being sucked into that battle.”
Kear also laughed off talk that Wakefield had been “lucky” to miss the Qualifiers following the points deduction which saw Salford drop into the bottom four at the expense of Trinity.
“I don’t think they’re lucky,” he said.
“If you don’t break the rules you don’t get the points deducted. I’ve been at Wakefield when it was the other way; we had points taken off us and we used it to inspire us to not finish bottom.
“If you break the rules, you’ve got to be punished and that’s what has happened. Wakefield have not been lucky: they’ve adhered to the rules and it’s as simple as that.”
And Kear admits his trophy for Championship coach of the year will take ‘pride of place’ among all his other achievements throughout his coaching career: dedicating the victory to the entire group at Batley.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a few nice awards and medals and it’s up there but I’m dead chuffed with this one. The fact that has made me so pleased with this is that it’s other coaches who have voted upon it. It’s not just for me, it’s for the players, the coaching staff and the board of directors.
“This is the third place in the Championship trophy in my eyes. I’m honoured to have been able to receive it and like I say, the fact it’s other coaches who have given me it is a huge honour.”