Bradford boss John Kear has reflected with pride on the role his club played in today’s clash with Leeds that raised money for Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Rob Burrow.
The match formed part of the Bulls’ pre-season preparations but will be forever remembered as much more than a warm-up.
Kear hailed Leeds’ organisation of the event and admitted that the class shown by the Rhinos is a benchmark his own club should aspire to reach.
He said: “It was emotional but I’m really proud of everybody connected with our club.
“We’ve had six, eight years or whatever where people haven’t spoken about Bradford in a very good light, but I think anyone who’s been to this occasion today will see how respectful and how dignified everybody connected with the club has been.
“We’ve just conducted ourselves correctly and we’ve allowed the correct people to take the limelight.
“We’ve contributed the bits that we did and I’m proud of the players and the club.
“I feel doing things like this in the manner that we’ve done them is what we needed to do.”
He added: “Anybody who’s been to this game today will know that it’s been organised absolutely brilliantly and that Leeds do things with class.
“They’re the benchmark and that’s what we need to aspire to. They’re a class club and hopefully we’ve contributed to that today.
“You don’t have great clubs just based on money, you have great clubs based on standards and values.
“We’ve got an exemplary one here, who wear blue and amber, and they’ve demonstrated it year upon year upon year.
“We’ve got to aspire to do that and I’m certain that we will with these people in charge and with that group of players, who are going out there and just giving their all in every situation, whether it’s training, team meetings or on the field of play.”
Following a slow start to the contest, the Bulls showed great resolve in the closing stages of the first half and for large periods of the second, and Kear was pleased with his players’ display under the spotlight of the occasion.
He confirmed: “I thought it was a very competitive game and I was delighted.
“In that first 15 minutes I thought Leeds looked really, really sharp and we were a bit in the tumble dryer, but they hung on in there and they showed some great resilience, enthusiasm and work rate.
“We worked our way back into it and I saw today from a Rugby League perspective, and a Bradford perspective, lots of things we can build upon for this coming year.”
One of the game’s true stalwarts, Kear has experienced the genuine highs and lows of Rugby League, including the tragic passing of Leon Walker and Adam Watene.
“I have been involved at clubs where they have suffered tragedies, like Leon and like Adam, and the club handled those with respect and dignity, as did the wider Rugby League family.
“Rugby League is a special game. I’ve had my life in this sport and I’m proud to have been in and around this great game, and in and around the great people within it.
“And when 20,000 people come out to a pre-season game, and when a broadcaster will put it out on one of their channels, it’s a heck of a tribute and it tells you how we view Rob.
“Rob’s loved, liked and respected throughout the game and that was demonstrated today.”
Meanwhile, Kear admitted to being impressed by the impact of 40-year-old Stuart Fielden, who caught the eye with a string of big carries and collisions.
“That first carry I thought ‘how old’s this bloke?’, because it was unbelievable, and then Kylie Leuluai dropped out of the line and flattened Sam Smith.
“Perhaps we stop them playing too early!”