Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear has praised the efforts of his back room staff and players during the early part of pre-season.
Kear returned from a fortnight break, having guided Wales to the European Championship title at the beginning of November, but has been pleasantly surprised with the Bulldogs’ efforts in training.
Kear said: “I really enjoyed my time with Wales and we turned round from three losses and finishing bottom of the pile last time to winning all three.
“The most pleasing aspect was beating France when we had eight full-time players to their 15.
“Since coming back I have been delighted with what I have seen.
“I took two weeks off after my time with Wales and left the other staff in charge but since returning the players look sharp, the work rate is high and from what I have witnessed it has been very good.”
Kear is now relishing the prospect of preparing Batley for the rigours of a new Kingstone Press Championship campaign.
Kear added: “It is interesting that with Wales we had the same starting 13 for all three of our matches but I didn’t have that all last season with Batley.
“You just have to look at Johnny Campbell, who was our marquee player, but suffered a bad ankle injury and when he returned broke his leg in horrific circumstances and he ended up missing two thirds of the season.
“When we reached the Grand Final (in 2013), we had a settled team and won seven of our last eight matches during that period.
“Having an injury free squad is so important and it is interesting that our best form last season came at the end of the regular season and in the Super Eights when other clubs were unable to call on dual registration or loan players.”