GARRY Schofield says Cougars' first two home League One games will provide an early benchmark for the new season.

Keighley will open their campaign at home to Leon Pryce's Workington on February 18 before hosting neighbours Bradford Bulls three weeks later.

And Schofield, who was appointed as Cougars' ambassador before Christmas, believes those early tests will show Craig Lingard's men the standard they will need to be at to make a sustained top-five challenge.

He said: “The first two home games are against quality sides, Workington and Bradford. They are our markers.

"Leon Pryce is a Bradford lad so I would imagine he’ll be getting a bit of stick. That’s what he deserves coming here to Keighley! It’s that rivalry between the clubs.”

Cougars fans are licking their lips at the first competitive clash against Bradford for many years.

And Schofield is certainly relishing it too as Cougar Park looks set for its biggest crowd in a long time.

He said: "Bradford Bulls are the big main attraction and I'm very much looking forward to that one down here.

"I’m sure everyone in this league are delighted they are playing the Bulls because of the crowd they’ll bring.

"Certainly from a revenue point of view it’s going to be brilliant. When they come to Cougar Park – oh boy, it will be a great atmosphere."

The match has added spice following the appointment of John Kear as Bulls coach, with Lingard having previously worked as his assistant at Batley.

Schofield said: "Craig Lingard was talking about it last week at the shirt launch. Not just because it’s the Bulls but also his confrontation with John Kear.

"He’s an up and coming coach going against the master. It’s going to be a mark of where we are."