Coach Kear pays price for Hull's poor season

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The Independent Online

Seven months after guiding his team to the Challenge Cup, Hull have shown their coach, John Kear, has been shown the door.

Kear coached the club to success over Leeds in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium last August, but was told yesterday that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the season because of what his chief executive, David Plummer called "very average results" in Super League since.

Hull have lost four of their last five matches, are lying outside the division's top six play-off zone and were knocked out of the Cup by Bradford on Saturday.

"We have decided not to extend John's contract when it expires at the end of the season. The board will never forget the Cup success, but results since have not been impressive," said Plummer. "You can't win Super League without being consistent."

Kear's departure takes immediate effect, with his assistant, Richard Agar, taking over in the short term, starting with Friday night's match at home to Leeds.

Further ahead, the former Hull player, Steve McNamara, currently assistant coach at Bradford, is the name most widely linked with the job, although the success of another former Hull forward, Karl Harrison, at Salford has also been noted.

Kear took over from Shaun McRae at the end of the 2004 season, after working as his assistant. The former Castleford player began his coaching career at Bramley, won the biggest feather in his cap when he took Sheffield Eagles to Challenge Cup victory over Wigan in 1998 and has coached both England - for the 2000 World Cup - and France at international level.

At 51, Kear is the oldest coach in Super League. Apart from guiding Hull to the Cup final last August, he engineered the club's first play-off success. But the season ended in anticlimax when Hull were thrashed 71-0 at Bradford and suffered a 46-0 defeat by St Helens in their last home game.

Kear has been publicly philosophical about the prospect of losing his job so soon after being hailed as a Humberside hero. "I'm sure I'll be coaching somewhere next season," he said recently. A coach with his achievements on his CV is no doubt correct about that, but it will not be at Hull. The final twist of his reign there was that the club's Great Britain half-back, Richard Horne, had emerged, along with Bradford's Paul Deacon, as one of the players Wigan would like to bring on board to arrest their alarming decline.

Wakefield have promised to fight to keep another of them, their Kiwi forward, David Solomona, out of Wigan's grasp.

"We have not had an official approach yet, but I'm anticipating one," said the Wakefield chief executive, Steve Ferres. Solomona is under contract until the end of next season, so Wakefield would be in a position to demand a substantial transfer fee.

Solomona missed Sunday's Challenge Cup defeat by Wigan on Sunday with a rib injury, but could be fit in time for Friday's rematch in Super League.

Wigan could be without their most experienced forward, Bryan Fletcher, for that match. Fletcher has been ordered to appear at today's disciplinary hearing, charged with striking Jamie Rooney during the Cup tie.