COUGARS head coach Rhys Lovegrove is relishing this weekend's League 1 opener at home to Doncaster, admitting he sees them as a promotion rival.

Though he insisted it is far too soon to view Sunday's result as vital to Keighley's season, he won't want his side to do anything silly, with fiery prop Jack Arnold under the microscope again after being sin-binned in the friendly win over Coventry the other week.

Discussing the Doncaster match-up, Cougars' first league game since last March, Lovegrove said: "It's really good to start with a home game, and obviously by the time we host Rochdale in week three we should have fans in, which we're excited for.

"But there's still streaming available for this one, so plenty of people can watch.

"Doncaster are a big club, who've kept themselves around the top of League 1 for the last few years with a good roster.

"They have a pretty good balance. League 1 is generally forward-dominated but Doncaster play in more of a Super League style.

"They have a solid forward pack, with strength off the bench in Ross Peltier.

"There's Matty Beharrell controlling the game for them in the halves, they're strong in the centre and have pace out wide with the likes of Sam Doherty.

"They've just signed (experienced Samoan international) Misi Taulapapa too, who's a great player."

But Lovegrove added: "It's too soon to make a call on how the result will affect the season.

"I think the first four to six weeks, teams will be a bit all over the place, so it's more about the performance I want to see from my boys on Sunday.

"Hopefully we can put in a good one and then show we can be there or thereabouts later on in the season."

Keighley warmed up for the game well with a fine 52-4 victory over Coventry on April 24, with Lovegrove admitting he was particularly pleased with the opening half hour, when his side raced 32-0 in front.

But Cougars were not quite as convincing in the second half, and they saw Arnold sin-binned late on for a poor tackle on Bradford Bulls loanee Bradley Ho.

The prop picked up a lengthy ban after being charged with a gouging offence against Hunslet in August 2019, but he has escaped a suspension this time around and will be available for Doncaster.

Lovegrove said: "That aggression is a big part of his game, and he's a grown man, so he knows he has to channel it.

"It's more about who we put with him, and we've been bringing him off the bench alongside Aaron Levy, Kyle Kesik and Jack Coventry, just to enhance their games.

"The challenge is for Jack (Arnold) not to get frustrated, and Kyle is a bit of a babysitter for him at times, but they've complemented each other well with their play too."

Monday marked the sixth anniversary of the death of stand-off Danny Jones following his cardiac arrest during a Cougars game against London Skolars.

And Lovegrove said: "This club has a long history and Danny is a big part of it.

"Josh Lynam was here when he died, and Danny was close to Buster (James Feather), who is on my staff now.

"I've chatted with Buster about it over the last week, just to see how he's doing.

"As I said, Danny is a big part of Cougars' modern history and it's important for us to keep thinking of him and have those memories of him."