Keighley coach Rhys Lovegrove taking unusual pre-season in his stride

James Messenger

Photo courtesy of Keighley Cougars

Keighley boss Rhys Lovegrove insists his players are unfazed by their peculiar build-up to the 2021 League 1 season. 

The Cougars have only one pre-season fixture scheduled in so far; away at Bradford’s temporary home, the Tetley’s Stadium, on March 13.

The following weekend, Keighley return to competitive action for the first time in over a year when they visit London Broncos in round one of the Challenge Cup.

However, after taking on the Broncos, they currently face a six-week gap before hosting Doncaster on the opening weekend of the new League 1 campaign. 

Despite a less-than-familiar build-up to their round one opener, Lovegrove believes his pre-season planning will leave the Cougars in good shape. 

“I enacted a plan that would ideally allow us to start (preparing during the) first week of November and progress all the way through until whenever our first game was,” he said.

“As the weeks have been pushed back and the different disruptions have been put in, I haven’t changed the plan, I’ve just pushed it back further and further and further.

“There is the added dynamic of having the Challenge Cup right in the middle of that plan, but we’re taking it in our stride.”

READ: Keighley confirm 2021 squad numbers

Lovegrove – who took over the reigns in June 2019 following Craig Lingard’s departure – is set to embark on his first full season in the job having seen his side play just twice before league action was suspended in March 2020. 

Two months later, seven out of 11 clubs in League 1 rejected the chance to resume in a behind-closed-doors capacity, forcing the season to be declared null and void. 

Despite going so long without regular competitive action, Lovegrove has confidence that his players will be ready to hit the ground running. 

“We’ll be as ready as we can be for that game (against London) with the time that we’ve got,” the Australian admitted. “We have a great group working really hard outside of the sessions that we do. 

“The tricky bit is going to be the after part, that four to six week (break).

“But we’ve got a good, strong, competitive squad. It’s just a matter of keeping that tempo and development ready for Doncaster in round one.”

More on site

Grzegorz Kacała: Super League’s first Polish powerhouse

Remembering old rugby league grounds that are no longer here