Keighley have hired Batley assistant Craig Lingard as the club’s new head coach.
Lingard been instrumental in this year’s highly successful campaign where Batley reached the Qualifiers in the Super 8s.
Chairman Gary Fawcett said: “We are very pleased to sign Craig as our new Head Coach.
“Batley have delivered very successfully in the new league format over the past two seasons and he has been key in this achievement.
“Craig understands the processes and systems that support the level of success Batley are enjoying and will bring this to Cougar Park.
“As a club, we are aiming to emulate the successes Batley are currently enjoying and the appointment of Craig might bring along with it some of that Batley luck.
“There has been some comments by our social media family suggesting that we haven’t got the ambition for next season that we should have. I
“can assure everyone that this is not the case, but we are not going to put the team under unfair pressure, so we are targeting a top five finish.
“Craig will be assembling a team and style of play that he believes will be able to achieve at least that.
“One of the things I was especially excited about when interviewing Craig was his vision of how he wants our team to play with an open attacking style.
“This should be enought to get some of our fans away from their keyboards and back into Cougar Park on match day!”
Head Coach Lingard said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity and responsibility of becoming the new Head Coach at Keighley Cougars for at least the next two seasons.
“They are a club with a great history within the game and I hope that I can play a part in returning the Cougars to the Championship during my tenure.
“This is a great opportunity for the club over the coming two to three seasons to create something special and put systems in place that will benefit the club for years to come.
“It is my aim to make the environment at Keighley one that is professional in its approach, supports the development of players and works hard and any player who stays or joins the club must buy into this approach to give the Cougars fans what they deserve – A team that gives everything they have got.
“We will be talking to existing players at the club over the coming weeks whilst also looking at which players to bring in to the culture we want to create.
“There will be a focus on recruiting young and hungry players that want to develop and have the opportunity to play in a high performing environment.
“We will look to build the immediate future around these young players alongside players with experience to create sustainability and longevity to give the club the best possible chance to succeed.
“We certainly aren’t closing the door on any experienced player that is interested in joining the club but all players will be recruited within budget and within the ethos of professionalism that all players must adopt.
“The supporter base at Keighley is very good and I want to treat them to a brand of rugby that is fast and exciting to watch.
“In order to do this they need to do the basics well and that is carrying harder than the opposition tackle!
“The players will be given systems to play to but within these systems they will be encouraged react to what is happening in front of them and adapt accordingly.
“Without giving too much away I’m hoping that the fans will be pleased with what they see.
“As the game plan will be slightly more expansive it will be unlikely that our completion rate will be 90% plus so the players will have to enjoy the challenge of defending to play that way.
“Defence is an attitude thing more than a technique thing and this brings me back to having the right people with the right attitude to do the job.
“Players need to enjoy playing without the ball as much as they enjoy playing with the ball.
“Obviously the structures and systems that we are trying to put in place will take time to be integrated into the team but this is a long term project that the club has in mind and not a short term fix.
“With Toronto joining the league next season it is anticipated that with their budget and personnel they will be odds on favourites for the title.
“With two strong teams coming down from the Championship, the teams that finished above and around Keighley last season as well as South Wales who look like they are spending and recruiting well there will be seven or eight teams challenging for the remaining promotion spot.
“It will be extremely difficult for a team in transition to expect to be in that position at the end of the season but one thing I can guarantee is that any player who puts on a Keighley shirt will give everything they have to achieve the best possible outcome for the club.
“We certainly aren’t writing off next season in any shape or form and I firmly believe that if the majority of last years’ players stay on then Keighley are still a top five.
“I have worked with John Kear since 2012 and this experience has been invaluable to me.
“I have already spoken to John and he has offered me his support on matters such as recommending players that may become available for recruitment or anything else that may arise and having John on the end of a phone is certainly a massive positive for both myself and Keighley and something that I will use.
“I want to thank the board at Keighley for giving me this opportunity and it is everyone’s hope that we see Keighley back in the Championship during my time at the club.”