Championship club traditions must be respected, John Kear told Boots 'n' All

Last Updated: 21/03/13 8:33am

The identities and traditions of Championship clubs must be protected in the age of the dual-registration system, John Kear told Boots 'n' All.

This season over 120 players have been signed up to the scheme which allows Super League clubs to 'lend' squad players to lower league sides.

"There are followers of the game who only support Championship clubs and they've got to be catered for as well."

John Kear

The dual-registration system was initially launched in 2010 for under-23 players but from the start of this campaign allowed players of all ages to swap the Super League substitutes' bench for a starting berth in a team in a tier below the top flight.

While this has benefits for both the Super League side - who can keep fringe players fit and focussed - and lower league sides - who get an injection of Super League quality for a short time - Batley Bulldogs coach Kear warned the smaller clubs' history must be respected and protected.

"It could devalue the Championship - but it's also about clubs' identities and tradition which must be retained," he said. "There are followers of the game who only support Championship clubs and they've got to be catered for as well."

Kear rejected suggestions his side - who have a tie-in with Huddersfield - are merely the Giants' reserve side but conceded that, despite the short-term gains, he still has long-term concerns about the motives of the scheme.

"It's a partnership between us and Huddersfield," he said. "We're very fortunate we get medical support from the Giants and they also make players to us, although it's up to us whether we take them on board.

"Whether it's the best way in the long run, I don't know because player development should be the main aim, not the financial aspect, but if that's where the game is at, then that's where it's at."

Meanwhile, former Castleford and London Broncos ace Jon Wells pointed out the system would have disappointing implications for semi-pros in the lower tier who will see their place in their team taken away from them by a loan arrival from Super League.

"If I was a Championship player and a Super League player was parachuted in for a weekend and took my spot I'd feel aggrieved about that," he said.

"A lot of the Championship clubs are part-time and a lot of the players have full-time jobs and work flexi-time or have concessions from their work to make training.

"If their position at the weekend gets taken by a Super League player who wants a bit more fitness, that's probably the area that I would be concerned with."

Beneficial

However, Gary Hetherington, Leeds Rhinos' chief executive, is a supporter of the dual registration system and gave three reasons why it is beneficial to the game as a whole.

"It's important we make the most of our finances because the game isn't awash with money - and that's one of the main considerations," he said.

"But the most important one is that of player development; the measures the RFL have brought in - which were all supported by the clubs - to streamline the academies and create these working partnerships with Championship clubs is the best way forward for our player development model.

"The third thing, which not many people have given consideration to, is the effect on the community game. There's no doubt that many pro clubs were raiding the community game and destroying it in many respects simply to fulfil teams. Those days hopefully will have gone now.

"When you take all these things into consideration there's no doubt in my mind we've got the best system going forward."

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