Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear claims one of his finest Super League exports has what it takes to reach the very pinnacle of the game.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s Kingstone Press Championships in Manchester, the former Wakefield boss praised St Helens forward Alex Walmsley, who had a superb debut season in Super League after joining from the Bulldogs in 2013.
“We’re very proud of that,” Kear said.
“We had Alex Brown and Alex Walmsley both go for Super League clubs in year one [of his coaching career at Batley], then in year two we’ve had Jason Walton and Greg Johnson go.
“We’re really proud of that and obviously we like to think we’ve contributed a little to their development, but it is down to the players themselves and the effort and application they put in.”
Dewsbury-born Walmsley, 23, is one of the league’s highest-rated youngsters and is tipped by many for greatness.
“I think he won’t be far away to tell you the truth,” said Kear.
“If he keeps his feet on the ground and keeps working hard, keeps listening to the advice being offered to him and working very hard on the practice pitch I think the sky’s the limit for the kid.
“I think he’s certainly good enough to be in and around the international scene.”
Kear also spoke highly of his current crop of players and said there could be more heading for the top tier in the not-too-distant future.
“I’m sure we’ve got one or two others in this current squad of a similar ilk,” he said.
“Obviously I’d say to Super League clubs come and have a good look at them and you might pick up a duo.”
I asked Kear to confirm whether or not he wanted me to print the fact he is actively encouraging Super League clubs to swoop in for his top players.
“Of course,” he said, in a tone that suggested I was silly to think otherwise.
“That’s a full-time job, if you can find a lad a full-time job in a game he loves, I think you should shake their hands and wish them well. It’s not selfless, you ask the players to give their all and if they give their all they should be rewarded, and the club would reward them by saying well done and good luck for the future.”