KEIGHLEY Cougars head coach Matt Foster admits leaving Australia behind and putting pen-to-paper on a new two-year deal with Keighley Cougars was “a tough call”.

But after signing that new deal last Thursday, Sunday’s thrilling 26-20 comeback win over Barrow made that look like a very sound decision, with Cougars now two points clear of the Betfred Championship relegation zone.

The club means a lot to Foster, having played here for 11 years.

But having been settled with his wife on the Gold Coast and having coached out in Australia for over a decade, him signing a long-term contract with Cougars was no given.

He said: “Leaving Australia and the life I have there meant it was obviously a tough call.

“I’m passionate about coaching and about the Keighley Cougars, but the contract had to be fitted around family.

“Fortunately, it all came together nicely.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Matt Foster is staying put at Cougars until the end of 2025.Matt Foster is staying put at Cougars until the end of 2025. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Expanding on the personal aspect of the decision, Foster said: “The desire was there to coach here, but it was just about fine-tuning tiny little details over the last month.

“Being at Keighley long-term was a driving force for me, and my wife is here with me now.

“We don’t have any kids and all of my side of the family are here too.

“Obviously my wife’s are out in Australia, so we’re still working out the details over whether she’ll be here for a long spell, or maybe a couple of shorter ones where she’s with me, and then back with her family.

“While she is here though, being a mad rugby league head herself, she’s working for me at Cougars, helping out with all the stats.”

Foster also has a full-time job outside of rugby league here now, making the transition to life back in England easier.

It means a busy schedule for the head coach, but it all seemed worthwhile on Sunday, as Cougars overturned a 20-10 half-time deficit to beat relegation rivals Barrow 26-20.

Foster said: “I’m extremely proud of how we came out second half, full of running and energy.

“But the first half wasn’t too bad, and I felt we laid the foundations to make Barrow more fatigued as the game wore on.

“That gave us an advantage and I was proud of how we handled that second half.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sadiq Adebiyi drives forward with the ball in Cougars' win over Barrow.Sadiq Adebiyi drives forward with the ball in Cougars' win over Barrow. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

He added: “There was no screaming and shouting at half-time, as the players understood what would allow us to win our battles.

“We felt comfortable and confident in what we were trying to achieve and I just made a little tweak to our play around the edges, so we could square up and manipulate their defence.

“I highlighted the big positives of the first half to the players and they stayed really strong after the break.”

Put to him the game was a must-win, with Cougars' final three games against play-off contenders, Foster said: “We’ve focused heavily on performance.

“As coaching staff, we don’t talk about winning, just performances.

“If we stick to our thought processes, play and fight well, the results will take care of themselves.

“That attitude takes the pressure off a lot.”

Cougars visit fourth-placed Sheffield Eagles tomorrow night, so have little time to toast Sunday’s success.

Foster said: “A five-day turnaround is never ideal but we knew this was coming and we’ve adapted training to suit the schedule.

“There’s a lot more recovery involved, but we’ve done a lot of work on structures over the last few weeks anyway.

“As long as we re-emphasise those, we’ll be prepared enough, and obviously it’s the same turnaround for Sheffield too.”