KEIGHLEY Cougars stalwart James Feather cannot wait to dive into his new player-coach role, and he has already identified some players he'd love to work with.

Though he helped head coach Rhys Lovegrove with some off field work in 2020, Feather admits his primary role was still to be pulling on his boots at hooker.

But he says that is no longer the case. His main focus is on developing individuals, with the hope of also playing a handful of games to break Phil Stephenson's Cougars summer appearance record of 343.

Feather, who has been at the club since 2003, currently sits on 341, with the coronavirus pandemic having stopped him surpassing Stephenson's achievement in 2020.

Looking ahead, the 36-year-old said: "I was having some impact on the coaching side of things last season and learning the ropes, but it was mainly about playing and being able to pull my boots on, with the coaching in the background.

"But now it's the reverse. My role is mainly coaching, then to play if I'm required.

"I only need three games to break Phil's record, so hopefully I'm given the opportunity to do so in the right games, if we have injuries or if the other nines need a rest.

"I'm still good enough to play.

"Even if I can at least equal Phil's record, to have my name alongside his in the record books would be a real honour."

Feather is equally, if not more, excited about getting his teeth stuck into coaching though, and he said: "There's some really good young players coming through here, like Jack Arnold.

"I could help him, and then someone like Dalton Desmond-Walker, who is an unbelievable carrier of the ball, but his (lack of) skill can let him down a bit.

"Same with Dan Parker, we could look at maybe working on his penalties and video review certain aspects of his game.

"I'm hoping I can help the other two nines in Kyle Kesik and Ryan Wright too.

"If Rhys is busy with the whole squad, I'm looking forward to helping out with one or two individuals. The chance to make them better players excites me."

With Feather set to take a step back from playing, the leader on the pitch in 2021 could be 35-year-old stand-off Scott Murrell.

The former Halifax captain joined the club in August and Feather is delighted to have him within the ranks at Keighley.

He said: "100 per cent, he'll be a leader on the field. Anyone in rugby league knows how good Scott is, he's an awesome player.

"He also brings us that leadership we've maybe lacked in the halves since Tiger (Paul Handforth) left in 2016.

"I'm looking forward to him coming in, as an older head, and having the chance to work with him instead of playing against him."

Murrell and Feather have both been involved in rugby league for years, so must have found it more strange than most to go virtually a full season without it due to coronavirus.

Asked about the unique situation, Feather said: "It's been totally crazy. It's probably the first time in 19 years that I've been able to go home on a Tuesday and Thursday with nothing to do (due to no training).

"We normally only get about eight weeks off between September and November, so it's not long, and then you're straight back into pre-season. That's why this is so strange.

"But it does mean the players are champing at the bit to get back to it, and there's quite a few of them who are pleading with Rhys to put on some training sessions or drills just so they can get some practice in."