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Keighley Cougars teaming up with Castleford Tigers
The Cougars are on the verge of announcing a partnership agreement with Castleford Tigers that will see players from the Super League club turn out for Paul March’s side – starting this weekend against Whitehaven.
The majority of Super League clubs have in recent months formed twinning arrangements with Championship outfits, with the Bulls and Dewsbury Rams having already struck a profitable partnership.
Last weekend the Rams opened their Championship campaign with victory at Doncaster, which saw Bulls rookie Adam O’Brien score twice and England Knights star James Donaldson play 60 minutes.
March, while stressing his desire to protect the integrity of his squad, is keen that Keighley do not get left behind.
He is aiming to bring in a full back and a forward from Castleford’s first-team squad this weekend as the Cougars seek to bounce back from their opening-day thumping at Batley.
March will again be without six players in Brendon Rawlins, Ollie Pursglove, Jamaine Wray, Craig Moss, Matt Bailey and Ben Stead for the first home game of the season.
March said: “I really feel this partnership could benefit us, especially at this time of year when we’ve got six players out injured.
“All six probably would have been in the first 17 last weekend, so we need to bring some experience into the squad.
“I initially wanted to stay away from this kind of arrangement but it benefits clubs massively and is already having a big impact on certain results in the Championship.
“We can’t afford to be left behind, so hopefully we might get one or two players in our squad this week who have played a lot of Super League games.
“We don’t want to upset our own players here at Keighley, so it’s all about how we manage it. If we do it right, it could be a good partnership and one which benefits Castleford as well.”
Ian Millward’s side had been expected to team up with Doncaster but they went with Wakefield, leaving Castleford to join forces with the Cougars.
March is remaining tight-lipped about the identity of the Tigers players who could join up with his squad.
But he said: “We’re looking at two players in particular this weekend – one is a full back and the other is a front row/second row.
“One of them has got well over 100 Super Leagues games under his belt, while the other has played a handful of games.
“We’re not just going to bring in some of their under-20s squad, it’s going to be people out of their first-team squad.
“Hopefully it will make a difference and we can start competing with some of these teams who have already started bringing in Super League players.
“We want it to be a two-way thing and hopefully Castleford will advertise our games on their website and we get a friendly against them next year.
“Furthermore, Ian’s door is always open for my coaching staff and I to go over to Castleford and gain experience from him.
“It should work both ways and we’re happy with the agreement in principle. It’s just about getting everything finalised now.”
The Cougars are bidding to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Mount Pleasant.
March reflected: “At Batley we let little things have a big effect on us and defensively we were poor. We’ve got to make sure we stay focused for 80 minutes.”