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Elliot Kear skippers Wales at a World Cup – just like school pal Gareth Bale

ELLIOT Kear may be one of two schoolmates leading Wales at a World Cup this year – but that is where the similarities end with Gareth Bale.

One is living the high life playing football in Los Angeles, the other has had to group leave together from his job as a fireman in West Yorkshire to captain his country in rugby league.

And when it comes to golf, there is only one winner.

Bradford ace Kear, who also counts former Wales and British Lions RU captain Sam Warburton as a pal at Whitchurch High School in Cardiff, said: “I don’t think he’ll need any tips from me about captaining Wales at a World Cup if I’m honest being the player he is.

“All you’ve got to do is believe in the group of players you’re leading and make sure they’re all on the same page and is motivated.

“Put it this way, when I signed for Bradford, I wasn’t thinking, ‘I can retire now and sit on my mountain of money.’

“And he’ll be better than me at golf. I bought a beginner’s set of clubs once and they’re gathering dust from when I bought them.

“I also don’t have a course in my back garden, so I can’t practice as well as he can. I saw that ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid,’ flag he once stood behind, that was quality.

“A lot of my friends still keep in touch with him and what he’s achieved is fantastic for the school and when Sam and Gareth played, you just knew they were special.

“As far as I’m aware, Gareth was a good kid at school. Maybe he was a little bit quiet but to go on and achieve what they have for their country is just phenomenal.

“It’s great for both sports and the country to be in two World Cups this year. It’s what everyone’s wanted and I know we’ll get bums on seats for our games. The Welsh don’t need a reason to watch sport.

“West Yorkshire Fire Brigade have granted me three tours off, so I’m thankful to them for doing that. Depending on where we finish, I’ll pick it back shortly after.

Kear works as a fireman in West Yorkshire while playing part-time at Bradford

“I’ll potentially be back on November 3. If we get out of the group, it’ll have to be pushed back.”

Kear, who plays part-time around his day job, will take on a trio of south sea powerhouses, starting with Cook Islands tonight (Weds).

If there is such a thing as a group of death, John Kear’s men are in it after also being drawn with Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Having lost St Helens’ Morgan Knowles to tier one England – eligibility rules mean players can represent a tier one and a tier two nation – the only player in their side that appeared in Super League this year is Rhys Williams.

Kear’ reunion with Pacific island nations reminds him of ‘playing in a tumble dryer’

And while the size of the challenge will become apparent when they take to the field, playing in what would seem like a fridge compared to a tumble dryer may help.

Kear added: “There will be some big humans on those pitches – and I won’t be one of them!

“I played Papua New Guinea in Papua New Guinea at the last World Cup and that was one of the hardest games I’ve ever played in.

“It was about 35 degrees and 90 something per cent humidity, it was like playing in a tumble dryer!

“But it won’t be at Doncaster when we play them and the weather may be a bit of a factor for us. I don’t think PNG or any of the southern hemisphere teams will be used to the British weather.”

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