Cougars player-coach Paul March has hailed rising star Josh Lynam as one of finest talents outside of Super League ahead of Sunday’s home clash with Swinton.

The homegrown back-rower has attracted admiring glances from a host of clubs following his rise to prominence this season.

March billed him as Cougars’ most influential player during last weekend’s home demolition of Dewsbury and he reckons the 21-year-old will only get better.

He said: “Josh was man-of-the-match by far against Dewsbury, even though Richie Barnett scored his hat-trick, because he gave an 80-minute powerhouse performance.

“I don’t think there is a young back-rower in the game better than Josh at the minute.

“He does everything I ask of him with the ball and he puts his body on the line for 80 minutes week in and week out.

“He was in and out last year but he’s not missed a game this season and that’s how highly I rate him.

“We wouldn’t stand in anybody’s way if they had the chance of moving on to bigger and better things.

“Other clubs are already asking about him but Josh is happy to be here at the minute. Hopefully, he can get some success with us.”

The stunning 40-20 win over the big-spending Rams, which earned winger Barnett and prop Sean Hesketh inclusion in the Championship Team of the Week, has put Cougars in buoyant mood ahead of this Sunday’s league visit of Swinton.

March added: “That’s how I want to play. I told the fans when I first got the job that I wanted to play some expansive rugby.

“We didn’t have the full personnel to do it last season but now we have players such as Jonesy (Danny Jones) and Tiger (Paul Handforth), it makes it easier to get the ball from one side of the field to the other.

“We were fantastic last weekend so hopefully people will fear coming here to Cougar Park.”

On Sunday’s opponents, who Keighley beat to reach the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, March said: “You never know which Swinton are going to turn up and which dual-registration players they are going to have playing for them.

“We’ll prepare for the game in training this week and if we need to change something when Swinton arrive on Sunday then so be it.

“The next three league games are massive and could take us to where we want to be. If we get nine points from these next three games then it puts us right in the mix. We’re looking forward to games rather than looking over our shoulder.”

Cougars’ injury problems are gradually easing, with skipper James Feather set to feature this weekend after a nagging groin problem.

March said: “Buster has trained this week and will be looking to get a run-out on Sunday.

“James Haley is back in training as well and Ash Lindsay has had his pot off last week and is running straight away, so we’re looking good.

“Buster is our club captain and Keighley through and through – he will do anything for this club to succeed so when you have a player like that you can’t keep him out.”

Cougars’ Challenge Cup quarter-final at Widnes will be played on Thursday, June 5 and be televised live on Sky.

But March has spoken of his disappointment at the game not being played on the Saturday or Sunday so as to accommodate his part-time players.

He said: “Some players will have to take a half-day off, others might be a full day, plus the Friday as well.

“That’s just on the playing side; the other side of it is our supporters. There are a lot of kids and young families who won’t be able to make the trip now because it’s on a school night, so we’ll miss out on that.

“When you look at it, it seems that television always takes preference, but the games could have been swapped. It’s a lot to ask part-time players to travel on a Thursday night, or Friday as Leigh have to do with Leeds.”