Ex-England boss John Kear is new Wales Rugby League coach

Former England and France coach John Kear has been appointed Wales boss, succeeding Iestyn Harris.

His duties will start when Wales compete in the European Championships against France, Scotland and Ireland at the end of the year.

John's immediate challenge is to balance a young, but very capable Wales squad into a winning team

Brian Juliff Wales Rugby League chairman

Kear's main target is to reach the 2017 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"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," said Kear, 59.

"I really think that I can make a big contribution to the game in Wales. A strong international game is essential for rugby league."

Harris, now head coach at Salford Red Devils, left his role in April after Wales lost all three 2013 World Cup group matches.

"The appointment of John Kear as head coach brings a wealth of experience forged at the highest level of the game to Wales," said Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff.

"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.

Challenge Cup heroes - Sheffield Eagles

"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."

Kear coached France in 1997 and then England at the 2000 World Cup, guiding them to the semi-finals.

He joined Castleford's backroom staff after a playing career with the Tigers that ran from 1978 to 1988.

He became coach at Bramley in 1992 before graduating to Super League side Paris St-Germain in 1996.

A year later, he took over at Sheffield Eagles, steering them to a shock win over Wigan in the 1998 Challenge Cup final.

He was also in charge of Hull FC when they upset Leeds Rhinos in the 2005 Challenge Cup final.

Kear has also been an assistant coach a Wigan, coach of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and has coached Batley Bulldogs since 2012.