Super League: Bradford Bulls winger confident
Elliot Kear talks to Sky Sports about life at Bradford, his hopes for the Bulls in 2014 and representing his country in the World Cup...
By Rob Lancaster - Tweet me: @SkySportsLanny
Last Updated: 14/02/14 4:35pm
There were, however, some bright moments for those Bulls supporters for whom the club's hat-trick of Grand Final successes between 2001 to 2005 seems a lifetime ago.
Elliot Kear certainly offers a ray of hope during these dark days; not only has he settled well at the Provident Stadium since arriving from Crusaders, he has also found a new home on the wing.
Having spent much of his career at full-back, Francis Cummins spotted the potential for the Welshman to patrol down the right touchline for Bradford. The switch has paid off, with Kear playing every minute of every league game in the 2013 campaign.
He contributed 10 tries and assisted in four others, statistics that led to the 25-year-old being offered a contract extension until the end of next year.
"I think they signed me to play there (on the wing), so it was always my first thought that I was going to play there," Kear told Sky Sports.
"I love playing full-back, but to me if I'm playing Super League that's all that matters.
"Franny (Cummins) said to me at the start of last year not to bother training as the full-back, we just want you to nail down a position. I played every game on the wing and I was pleased with the season. I want to do that again this year.
"I just wanted to nail down a spot and be consistent. I did just that. I want to do that again this year, but better myself, go a little bit further.
"I signed an extension, so I've got this year and next year as well. I was over the moon when he (Cummins) offered me that. It was a reward for my efforts and how I went last year
"I jumped at it. Because it's about stability, it's about security. I'm really settled, enjoying where I am and the people around me."
Stability is a key word when it comes to Bradford - the off-season has seen more concerns over their future and although the signs are now promising for the long term, both players and fans alike will be forgiven for not thinking too far ahead just yet.
Their hopes for this year have not been helped by prop Garreth Carvell - one of their big-name recruits during the winter on a two-year deal - opting to leave and join top-flight rivals Hull FC in the week before their opening fixture against Castleford.
Yet speaking before Carvell's departure, Kear felt the issues off the field had actually helped the squad bond together as they focus on making the top eight.
"There has been some concerns, but I think it's had the opposite effect on the players," he insisted.
"I think we've grouped together and has bonded us a little more. All the boys have just got on with it. It's not a great situation to be in, but we haven't let it faze us on the training field.
"Now, with all these changes to Super League, with the relegation and promotion, you just need to be on the ball a little more.
"Last year I think we were one of four clubs fighting for that eighth position, and now Salford are pumping money in so they will be another team in the mix."
Kear was a little later than some of his colleagues in returning to training, having been given extra time off after playing in the World Cup.
While the Welsh failed to make it out of the group stages, it was still an honour for the former school-mate of Gareth Bale and Sam Warburton to represent his country on home soil.
"The experience was really good," he said when asked about the tournament. "It was disappointing as a whole, but on the other hand it was a good craic with all the boys.
"I can't wait for it to come around again so I can push for my place in the squad. It will be something I will always remember."
And Kear will always treasure the chance to walk out at the Millennium Stadium, a special moment for a man born in Cardiff and who played plenty of rugby union in his younger days.
He even managed to mark the occasion with a try, adding: "I'd grown up there and gone to watch games, so to play there for Wales was something you dream of as a rugby player. It may not have been union, but it was special. And to score as well was just brilliant."