Scott Leatherbarrow is confident that Cougars can hit the ground running when they open their Championship campaign at Batley Bulldogs on Sunday (2pm).
The highly-rated scrum half, 22, has quickly emerged as a key figure in Paul March’s young side following his close-season arrival from Wigan.
Leatherbarrow left his hometown club at the end of last season and is currently combining his playing commitments at Cougar Park with a part-time role as the club’s development officer.
He is also studying to be a PE teacher at Edge Hill University in Lancashire and is delighted to have joined Cougars during the winter.
Leatherbarrow, who has formed a promising half-back partnership with Danny Jones, said: “I’ve really enjoyed it so far.
“All the boys are good lads and we’ve changed the team around quite a bit during the four pre-season friendlies we’ve played.
“It’s a young side and we’ve got a lot of improving to do throughout the year, but we’ve got better from the first friendly we played against Halifax to the last one against Doncaster.
“I just want to keep playing well and hopefully we’ll have a good season and get in the play-offs.
“I’ll spend this year in the Championship and then maybe get back in Super League, hopefully, but I need to prove myself at Keighley first.
“As the development officer at the club, I’ve been liaising with schools and we’ll do tag rugby sessions with them throughout the year.
“It’s been hectic with my studies but I’m really enjoying it.”
Leatherbarrow and a clutch of other close-season signings will make their full debut for Cougars at Batley on Sunday.
Much has changed at the club since the end of last season following the departure of Jason Demetriou and a number of big-name players such as Sam Obst and Michael Korkidas.
Leatherbarrow added: “The club have lost some experienced players but Marchy can definitely take the club forward again.
“The likes of JD and Sam Obst were obviously a big part of the club but they have been replaced with a lot of young lads.
“There is some fresh legs and young character in the team, so it should hopefully go well.
“Marchy has brought a new style of attacking play to the team, which benefits me as a half, and I think we can go really well.
“It will take time to bed in players in different positions but I’m sure we’ll have a stable team throughout the season and get into the play-offs.”
Cougars lost three of their four pre-season friendlies, including defeat to this weekend’s opponents, but Leatherbarrow is confident they can rise to the challenge this weekend.
He said: “Batley are a big and very steady side who don’t make too many errors, but there is nothing we need to worry too much about.
“If we concentrate on our own game then I’m sure the result will take care of itself.”
Meanwhile, Cougars under-20s host Great Britain BARLA Amateurs in a friendly on Saturday (2pm).
Cougars’ 20-man squad (v Batley): Craig Moss, Paul White, Richie Barnett, Daley Williams, Gavin Duffy, Danny Jones, Scott Leatherbarrow, Sean Hesketh, James Feather, Scott Law, Joe Chandler, Ben Sagar, Jamie Shepherd, Paul March, Andy Shickell, Jode Sheriffe, Josh Lynam, Ryan Patchett, Danny Lawton, Jesse Sheriffe.