Interview with Elliot Kear
Welshman Elliot Kear has been incredibly lucky as he is one of the few athletes in the modern game of rugby to play at the elite level in both codes in the UK. After a brief stint with London Welsh in Union, Elliot joined London Broncos in 2015, returning to his Rugby League roots. Stealing Elliot away from the kitchen, and all the incredible food, we took this opportunity to quiz him about his career...
First of all, where did your passion for rugby come from, I know you've mentioned that your Dad was a big influence on?
"Yeah, growing up in Wales rugby it is a pretty big thing. My Dad played at a high level, and coached at a high level so mainly through him I’d say. From the age of 5, I think it was, I started playing Union all the way up until I was 18, then made the switch to league".
So what was it that made you make the switch to League because it seems odd for a Welshman to want to play League?
"Yeah I kind of fell into it really. I’ve always been quite a slight person, and Rugby Union, when I was turning 17/18, everyone was getting a lot bigger and the sport was kicking on from being professional… so I went along to a Rugby League trial and it just went from there really… got into that, went on tour with them to Scotland to play in a Home Nations… back then you had only one rugby league team in Wales & while we were in the Academy… they made the Superleague, and in their second year they signed me and a few others full time & the rest is history".
You’ve had an amazing career; you’ve played in the World Cup, 4 Nations... is there a particular performance or game that really stands out for you?
"Yeah, scoring against Australia was probably the stand-out [moment] of my career so far I’d say. Just to play against the best players in the World, the best team in the World, was the biggest stand-out. And we were beating them for the first half-hour of that game [laughs]"
Is there a particular stadium or ground where the atmosphere has been un-real?
"I’ve played in bigger stadiums with Union rather than League… but one that really stands-out was playing against New Zealand at Wembley. It was a double-header with Australia v England. We lost that game, but still... it was nice to say you’ve played in Wembley".
You mentioned your switch back to rugby union, how did that come about & what prompted the switch back?
"It was a gap to be filled [in my career] because I’d not played senior rugby union as I’d left it at a young age. So I always thought that I’d like to give it a try, and an opportunity came with Justin Burnell [Former Head Coach] with London Welsh… and it was at a time where Bradford [Bulls] were being relegated, so it was the right time for me to try it. It was a really good experience, we didn’t get the results to keep us up… I liked doing it, but playing in League and going back to Union… the speed of League compared to going to a slightly slower game in Union… it didn’t suit me too much. But still, I’ve grown up playing Union all my life, and I’d happily go back… but the speed of League and the way I am built suits me down-to-the-ground".
So is there the possibility a switch back to Union might be on the cards?
"I’d never write it off, but at the moment I am really happy where I am; happy with the club, the coach & we have a really good bunch of boys in London. I have just moved [house] as well, so I want to settle down somewhere & not move the kids around too much. So my full focus is on getting promoted with London Broncos".
And you’ve got a big season ahead; looking for promotion & your coach has just signed a new contract…
"Yeah definitely, Andrew Hennison has done a really good job at London, spent the cap really well – we’ve got a lot of strength in depth this year which I think will help us massively. And with Bradford going into liquidation, I think it’s only going to be between a couple of teams for that top spot… and then going into the middle-8’s for the promotion against the bottom 4 superleague teams, we should feel pretty confident".
The Rugby League world got a lot more press recently when Sam Burgess (2014 NRL Winner & first ever Englishman to be named the International Player of the Year) made the switch from League to Union (before switching back) – how did you feel about the whole affair? Was it a negative publicity stunt, or do you feel it was a positive piece of PR for League?
"I think he saw an opportunity to play in the World Cup, and he is such a quality player, really one of the best players I’ve ever seen; I think he was just a tad unlucky. I think it has [raised the profile of League] and with the World Cup this year, hopefully that can boost the profile of the sport".
Have you ever thought about moving abroad to play Rugby League?
"Yeah I would consider it, there is a very good standard out there [ in Australia & New Zealand]; It’d be a great opportunity and great experience, but it’d have to be the right offer…I’d like my kids to grow up in Wales [laughs]".
Aside from your Dad, who you’ve mentioned, is there anyone else that you find inspiration watching?
"Just the game in general… just watching rugby provides me with some sporting inspiration; there are a few that stand-out who I loved watching though. Gareth Thomas stands-out, growing up watching him play and having the chance to play with him at the Crusaders (as he made the switch from Union to League for a year), that was pretty big [for me]. Looking back on it, you almost take it for granted, some of the players I’ve got to play with… but he was someone I looked up to when I was younger".
On social media, is there anyone you actively follow?
"To be honest I don’t have much time to be on social media. I like to follow players who I have played with because their feeds are a little bit more personal. Some of the bigger names don’t tend to tweet themselves".
Do you actively try and eat healthy, or has it just become a part of your lifestyle?
"Yeah it is ingrained into me now. I try and buy everything fresh, and I don’t know why, but I don’t like freezing too much meat or veg. With the kids, I try and get them to eat healthy as well… I don’t like seeing kids eating out of a microwave".
You mentioned previously you’re a fan of Jamie Oliver; how did you get into cooking & following him?
"I used to watch my mum cook growing up, and when I moved out I started learning how to cook more for myself. With chef’s like Jamie Oliver, it’s not just about the food, they’re quite interesting to watch and to see where they go. Jamie Oliver also tends to cook the food I like as well. Antonio Carluccio & Gennaro Contaldo are good too – they both follow me on twitter which is a bonus [laughs]"
What, if any, supplements do you take?
"The team give us a lot – creatine, protein, etc – I do think if I need to load up on carbs the day before a game, I’ll make sure I get some more in my meal".