KEIGHLEY Cougars have announced that Matthew Bailey has signed a new one-year deal with the club, with the stalwart staying put at Cougar Park after all.

Initially released as a part of the their 2020 retained list, ‘Bails’ will now be staying with Keighley following discussions between the player and head coach Rhys Lovegrove over the past few weeks.

Lovegrove said: “I’m really happy that Bails has decided to stay with the club.

“He offers us a lot of experience and a well-rounded game, which will suit the systems that I am implementing, and like playing, here at the club.

“I am now excited to see how Matt rises to the challenge of the 2021 season.”

Now entering his ninth season at Cougar Park, Bailey joined the club ahead of the 2013 campaign, following a stint in the youth system at the Bradford Bulls.

He missed the majority of that season after sustaining a broken leg in a pre-season friendly defeat to the Barrow Raiders, but Bailey would make his debut towards the back end of the campaign in a home defeat to the Dewsbury Rams.

‘Bails’ would finally properly break into the side following relegation from the Championship and became a regular during the 2015 season.

Despite play-off final heartbreak at the end of that year, the prop forward would become an integral part of the squad over the next couple of years and his efforts on the field would be rewarded off it.

His performances on the back of his breakthrough season would see Bailey win back-to-back Player of the Year awards in 2016 and 2017, and the 2017 Players’ Player of the Year accolade.

Cemented as a regular in the team, and a club stalwart, Bailey would continue to be consistent and reliable during both the troubled 2018 season and the renaissance of the club in 2019.

To date, Bailey has made an impressive 125 appearances for the Cougars.

Bailey said: “I’m happy to be staying with the Cougars and it is an honour to play for this club.

“When you see some of the names that Rhys and (chairman) Mick O’Neill have signed for next season, it is a really exciting time to be a part of not just the squad, but the club as a whole.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into pre-season now and hopefully when we finally return to playing, our great fans will be allowed in the ground to cheer us on, as we have missed them as much as they have missed us.”