KEIGHLEY Cougars' rugby-league icon Jake Webster is relishing his role alongside Rhys Lovegrove within the club's coaching set-up.

Appointed as Commercial Executive in September, Webster agreed a new contract that would see him remain a member of the playing squad whilst also beginning the transition into coaching during the 2023 season.

And with his role alongside Lovegrove well underway, Webster is enjoying seeing a different side to the game.

Discussing his new role, Webster said: “On the field, I will be there if needed because you just don’t know how the season is going to go. Injuries play a big part and it’s going to be a longer season than a lot of the boys have played, so I need to make sure I’m readily available if needed. When I was coming through I had a lot of experienced players easing me into the game, and I looked up to them. In tough times, they help you manage your emotions and they help you understand what’s needed at crucial times. So, if I can assist in any way to help the boys out in any way shape or form, then I will do so.

"On the other hand, bringing on the young boys in a coaching setting, it’s taking me a good few weeks to really get my teeth into it, but I’m really enjoying it. 

"I’m starting to get the respect of the boys in a different way. They’ve responded well and they are well aware that I’ve been involved in the game for a very long time, so I do have a lot of knowledge. My biggest challenge is just being able to deliver the message in a way where they can be coached. Rhys has been great with that aspect of it all and the boys have been really understanding, but they’ve also been putting the hard graft in to try and earn a spot in this team.

“It definitely gives me another perspective to the sport,” Webster joked.

“It’s not the usual rocking up to training, then train and then you can leave. In this role you go through videos constantly, go through different structures, team selections and more. You have to think so differently because sometimes the best player isn’t always the best player. We have to work out the team’s needs and different dynamics to ensure all the components are right. I see the game in a totally different way now because I know I can’t have an influence on the game as much as I’d like to, as I’m not on the field. That’s a massive change for me.

“I haven’t been nervous for years, but that first friendly against Newcastle was terrifying; I was nervous all week. Rhys told me that it was normal because you can’t have an influence on the outcome, but I’ll get used to it and I’ll continue to enjoy it.”

The Betfred Championship and League One launch took place at Cougar Park on Thursday and each team had one player representative amongst the photoshoot and other media duties that took place

For Keighley, it was star signing Luke Gale who acted as the club's poster boy on the day and Webster believes that the former England international was the perfect man to do it.

He said: "Having Luke there to represent Keighley Cougars, it certainly put things into perspective. When Keighley signed Daryl Powell back in the day it was a massive deal, and I think Luke Gale’s probably been the biggest signing the club have made since then. It just shows you the ambition of the club, the owners and it’s clear that everyone involved at Keighley wants to be pushing for higher honours. To do that, we need to keep buying players of Luke’s calibre, for sure.”