22nd April 2020, 14:09 | 125

#RFL125 Greatest Coach Contender | John Kear

#RFL125 Greatest Coach Contender | John Kear

The latest #RFL125 poll is now live and voting is open for the Greatest Coach!

There are five legendary coaches up for selection and John Kear, the master of a Challenge Cup upset and Head Coach of 11 different clubs during the past 28 years, is next up.

Kear was very much a one-club man during his ten-year playing career, scoring 37 tries in 133 appearances as a versatile outside back for Castleford before his retirement in 1988.

The now 65 year old quickly began to make his name as a coach thereafter, though his off-field career began as Conditioner for Castleford.

His first Head Coach role was with Bramley in 1992, before he went on to work for the Rugby Football League's Player Performance Department and going on to help steer Paris St Germain through 1995 and 1996 - a year which ended with Kear as Head Coach.

But the Castleford-born man was just getting started and, in 1997, he took over at Sheffield Eagles.

In his first season, the Eagles reached the semi-finals of the Rugby League Premiership Trophy, before 1998 brought about the club's finest hour.

Against all the odds, the Eagles battled to the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium where they took on much-fancied Wigan Warriors.

Wigan went into the game as firm favourites - they would go on to lose just twice on their way to winning the year's Super League title - but the Eagles' simple game plan paid off and they were 17-2 up heading into the final 20 minutes.

Though the Warriors scored late on, Sheffield, led around by Lance Todd Trophy winner Mark Aston, did enough to ease home and win 17-8 in what is widely regarded as one of the biggest upsets in Challenge Cup history.

He was Head Coach of the short-lived Huddersfield-Sheffield side in 2000, before a stint as Assistant Coach at Wigan Warriors.

Then he took the reins at Hull FC in 2005 snd he was a shock Challenge Cup winner again that same year as he led the Airlie Birds to glory.

Hull were underdogs against Tony Smith's free-flowing Leeds Rhinos side at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium but a late Paul Cooke try saw Kear's men claim a memorable 25-24 win - the club's third Challenge Cup success.

Though he parted ways with the club in 2006, he still had a part to play in the drama of the 2006 season; he took on the challenge of helping Wakefield Trinity survive relegation from Super League.

Trinity were in serious danger, before Kear inspired four wins from their final six matches, condemning rivals Castleford Tigers to relegation in a remarkable 'Great Escape'.

Kear then led a largely untested Wakefield squad to finish eighth in the top tier a year later, their second-highest Super League finish, before finishing fifth in 2008.

A new challenge as Head Coach of Batley Bulldogs then came in 2011.

The club were consistent Championship play-off contenders during his tenure, with the Bulldogs reaching the Qualifiers in 2016 which saw the club visit the likes of Leeds Rhinos in the end-of-season shootout.

Kear then headed to Bradford Bulls from the start of the 2018 season as they aimed to earn promotion from Betfred League 1 at the first attempt.

Despite firm competition from York City Knights - who would go up as champions - the Bulls were successful in their aim, winning a play-off final against Workington Town after finishing second in the league.

In 2019, Kear was at it again the Challenge Cup as Bradford memorably overcame Super League big guns and fierce local rivals Leeds Rhinos 24-22 at Odsal.

Kear has also made his mark on the international stage; he was Assistant Coach of England and Great Britain for spells in the 1990s, in charge of France for a 30-17 win over South Africa in 1997and led England to the 2000 Rugby League World Cup semi-finals.

He has also enjoyed a fruitful spell as Wales Rugby League Head Coach since 2014 - they won the Rugby League European Championship in 2015 and qualified for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Honours:

Challenge Cup (1998, 2005)

European Championship (2015)

Betfred League 1 play-off (2018)

Cast your vote for the Greatest Coach here!