Wales Rugby League have appointed the experienced former England and France coach John Kear as their new head coach.
The 59-year old will take charge of Wales for the first time this autumn when they will take on France, Scotland and Ireland in the European Championships.
He was coach of the England team in the 2000 World Cup leading them to the semi-finals and of France in 1997.
A player with his home club, Castleford Tigers for 11 years from 1978-88, Kear moved to the backroom staff at the club before being appointed head coach at lower league Bramley in 1992.
In 1996, he was appointed as a Super League head coach for the first time, taking charge of Paris St Germain, before moving back to England the year after and taking over at then Super League side Sheffield Eagles, taking them to the play-off semi-finals in that year and then a Challenge Cup Final victory over Wigan in 1998.
From there he was assistant coach at Wigan and then Hull FC, before stepping up to first team coach at Hull in 2005 coaching them to an historic 25-24 Challenge Cup Final over Leeds Rhinos at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff that same year.
He then took charge of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats for six seasons leading then to fifth in 2009, their highest ever Super League finish.
Since 2012, Kear has been head coach of Championship club Batley Bulldogs, a role he will keep alongside his Wales appointment.
Kear said: “I’m really delighted to have this opportunity as the new head coach of Wales Rugby League.
“I’m a big believer in international Rugby League as my background shows. I really think that I can make a big contribution to the game in Wales that will allow us to qualify and do well in Rugby League World Cup 2017.
“A strong international game is essential for Rugby League. The more competitive teams we have at the highest level the better and it’s my challenge to turn Wales into one of those top teams.
“I’m really looking forward to a long relationship with Wales Rugby League as we build for 2017 and beyond.”
Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff said: “The appointment of John Kear as head coach brings a wealth of experience forged at the highest level of the game to Wales Rugby League. His knowledge and proven ability to bring the very best out of his players makes him an ideal fit for Wales Rugby League at this formative time.
“It was important to bring in someone who shares our values and is committed to our vision ‘to be a top four Rugby League Nation in governance and performance’.
“John’s immediate challenge is to balance a young but very capable Wales squad into a winning team at this year’s European Championship and thereafter lay the foundation for success at the Rugby League World Cup 2017. I look forward to building a strong and supportive relationship with John to underpin the undoubted potential of Wales Rugby League.”