Kear finds fulfilment in relegation crunch clash for Wakefield

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The Wakefield coach, John Kear, claims to have enjoyed preparing his side for a match that could send them out of Super League as much as the build-up to his famous Cup final triumphs.

Kear won the Challenge Cup against the odds with Sheffield and Hull, but faces an even bigger task in trying to avoid the defeat at Bradford tonight that will spell relegation.

"It's marvellous because it's a big game and you want to be involved in big games," Kear said. "This is every bit as big as any final I've been involved in."

Kear has a full-strength side for the challenge of Odsal, with Ned Catic back from suspension and Michael Korkidas avoiding a ban in midweek after being sent off for a head-butt.

"I thought he was unfortunate to be sent off," he said. "It's a massive boost to have him available, because he's been playing remarkably well." Kear knows how inspirational Korkidas can be, because it was his mighty run that lifted Wakefield to beat Hull - then coached by Kear - in the play-offs two years ago.

"He changed the game when he went on the rampage with that 70-metre run. I'd settle for him doing that again from the kick-off against Bradford."

Kear expects the Bulls to bounce back after a disappointing display at Wigan last week. "If they produce one soft performance, it's followed by a really good one. It will be very, very tough for us," he said.

Regardless of what Wakefield do, Castleford can confirm their survival if they get anything out of their visit to Salford, for whom Stephen Myler, who is going to Northampton, and the released Chris Charles, play their last home games. Brad Davis, Super League's oldest player, could start for Cas.

Kear's predecessor at Wakefield, Tony Smith, has been appointed coach of the England Under-17 side.

Russell Smith, the leading British referee who has spent the last two seasons in Australia, has announced his retirement, aged 42. Smith refereed five Challenge Cup finals, three Grand Finals and 28 internationals before trying his luck in the NRL, where he has fallen out of favour.

Mitchell Sargent, the forward sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys after testing positive for cocaine, has rejected overtures from clubs in Britain to sign a three-year contract with the Newcastle Knights.

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