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Page last updated at 19:25 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Ford & Kear rule out England role

Wakefield coach John Kear
Kear has played down suggestions he could take the national coaching job

Wakefield boss John Kear has joined England rugby union defence coach Mike Ford in distancing himself from the role as national rugby league coach.

Both men have been linked with the post in charge of the England side recently vacated by Tony Smith, but expressed their wish to focus on current duties.

"While I'm extremely flattered to be linked with the national team, I still have a job to do," said Kear.

"Nobody from the Rugby Football League has been in touch with me or the club."

Kear, who is the oldest coach in Super League at 55, coached the national side during the 2000 World Cup but played down suggestions he could be interested in a second spell.

He added: "I've been tasked by the Wakefield directors to provide the best possible first team, develop a successful career path for players all the way through from the Under-18 team and ensure we have a football operation that will satisfy an application for the next phase of Super League in two years.

"Those are my priorities and my focus."

Ford had been talked up as the bookmakers' favourite to replace Smith, despite being in union since 2002, but has insisted he wants to stay part of England's efforts to climb the rankings and mount a challenge at the 2011 World Cup.

The former Ireland and Saracens defence coach Ford has been part of the England rugby union back room staff since May 2006.


The England coaching team has been under pressure after a series of lacklustre performances in the autumn Tests against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Former England star Josh Lewsey openly questioned the credentials of Ford and England's other specialist coaches, but manager Martin Johnson has strongly suggested that he will remain loyal to his men.

Johnson would be likely to resist any move by the Rugby Football League to appoint Ford as successor to Smith, who resigned for family reasons in the aftermath of England's 46-16 defeat by Australia in the final of the Four Nations.

Oldham-born Ford admitted that while he continues to follow rugby league - the sport in which he forged a successful playing career, earning 10 Great Britain caps and entry into the Castleford Hall of Fame - he feels their are enough viable candidates for the job at the helm of the England national side without him switching codes.

"I'm happy where I am and want to stay with England rugby union," the 44-year-old Ford told BBC Radio Manchester.

"We've got a job to do - the ultimate goal being the 2011 World Cup.

"I'm sure there are plenty of candidates out there. There's plenty to choose from.

"Steve McNamara springs to mind who has already been on board and seems a natural successor to Tony Smith."

Mike Ford
Ford has been England's defence coach since 2006

Bradford's McNamara, who has been Smith's assistant for the last three years, and Hull KR's Justin Morgan have also been mentioned as possible successors, should the RFL choose to appoint a coach working in the Super League.

Ford admitted the RFL must clarify the precise nature of the role before appointing someone to take the side forward.

"Is it a full-time job or a part-time one, and how many games are they going to play next year and the year after?" questioned Ford.

"Do you bring someone in like Tony Smith, who's already got a Super League job, or do you go for a guy who can work full-time and even then is there enough work for him on that basis?"

It is likely a four-man RFL panel, aided by Smith, will make an appointment for the role of full-time head coach ahead of England's mid-season international against France early next year.

In addition to taking charge of the national team, the new coach will oversee England Under-20s and work with the elite squad to develop a four-year plan to produce 30 world-class players for the World Cup in 2013.

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see also
Johnson senses England progress
21 Nov 09 |  English
England 6-19 New Zealand
21 Nov 09 |  English
Lewsey criticism garbage - Cueto
19 Nov 09 |  English
Coaches insist England are united
17 Nov 09 |  English
England to seek full-time coach
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby League
Smith quits role as England coach
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby League
Ford focused on defence
23 May 06 |  Internationals
Ford aims to revive England hopes
24 May 06 |  Internationals
Ford & Wells join England set-up
23 May 06 |  Internationals

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