Rugby League: England call up Kear as coach

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The Independent Online
JOHN KEAR, the Sheffield Eagles coach, is to take charge of England for two games against France this autumn.

Kear, ironically a former French national coach as well as an assistant with Great Britain, will steer the English side while the full Test team is in Australasia under Andy Goodway. The home nations are to compete separately in the World Cup in 2000 and England's games against France are seen as a crucial part of the preparation for the tournament.

David Howes and Damien McGrath, both of Leeds, are to be manager and assistant coach respectively. Kear, who guided Sheffield to the Challenge Cup last year, has already described himself as "flattered" to be on Leeds' short-list to replace Graham Murray as coach at the end of this season.

Ellery Hanley has introduced an alcohol ban on his St Helens players as they prepare for their Easter matches. The Saints coach, himself a tee-totaller, has insisted the players stay dry until after the match at London on 9 April.

They were already restricted to only drinking immediately after matches, but the new rule is symptomatic of the tight discipline with which Hanley intends to run his ship, although he stressed that there had been no drink problem since his arrival this winter.

"We have a very demanding Easter programme of three games in eight days and I believe that alcohol impairs your judgement," he said.

Saints' next game is on Good Friday at Wigan, whose coach, John Monie, has followed his usual policy of naming his team early. Dwayne West, the son of the former Wigan coach, Graeme, is in line to make his debut from the bench.

Wigan have had several inquiries from potential sponsors and ground advertisers in the 24 hours since the announcement that Super League is to be shown on terrestrial TV for the first time, in a half-hour weekly programme on BBC2 which starts in May.

Salford have become the first rugby league club to win the Investors in People award. The government-backed scheme measures the performance of companies in staff training and development.