KEIGHLEY Cougars full-back Ritchie Hawkyard has done a U-turn on his U-turn, and has dramatically decided to come out of retirement for the 2020 season.

He signed for Keighley in October from Oldham, following three previous seasons at Cougar Park, but two months later decided it was time to hang up his boots.

But a new year has brought a new outlook for Hawkyard, who has returned for two reasons: his young family and persistent Cougars chairman Mick O’Neill.

He said: “Mick’s been pestering me to come back and he’s a hard man to say no to.

“I’d made up my mind but he asked if I could just do one more year and he sold me the club again.

“But the main reason was for my family. My missus said to just go back for one more year.

“We were looking at budgeting for the house and having the kids at school. My missus is not working full-time at the moment either so there were money reasons.

“You just want to give the kids a better, active life. So they can go to after school clubs, go dancing and go swimming.

“Really, it was not beneficial to retire and it wasn’t fair on them. I’d have had to do some side jobs if I’d not gone back, so I might as well enjoy work, playing rugby."

Hawkyard left Cougars for the first time in 2018, after going unpaid for months under the old ownership, and he said: "I love the club and I never wanted to leave in the first place.

"But the situation we were in, I had to, as we didn't know if there'd even be a club at one point.

"But the club is more secure now. It's doing things right on and off the pitch and it's a more enjoyable place to be."

Cougars have assembled an impressive squad, one which even someone as talented as Hawkyard may find hard to break into.

He said: "There's a few decent full-backs at the club, like Louis (Sheriff) and Alfie (Seeley) so it could be hard to get back in.

"I back my ability against anyone but it will be hard. I'm behind the eight-ball with no training, and needing to learn new moves and processes, but a couple of sessions should help with that."

Hawkyard returns to training today, and is hopeful of making an appearance at Josh Lynam's testimonial against Coventry Bears at Cougar Park on Sunday.

Discussing his good friend, Hawkyard said: "He's a good player and a top lad. We've grown close while we've been there and gone on holiday together.

"His dad's great too. He can't do enough for you and he was the first to help out for my testimonial, so if I can play I will.

"I've just done 123 miles in three days for a coast to coast marathon (for charity) but I've been for a massage . Hopefully a few of those and some baths will sort me out.

"It's testament to the person Josh is that there'll be others putting their hands up to play and with him being a Keighley lad, I'm sure the whole town will be behind him on Sunday."