CRAIG Lingard has been appointed as Cougars’ new head coach on a two-year contract following the departure of Paul March.

It is understood that Hull KR assistant coach Willie Poching and ex-Keighley player and coach Matt Bramald were both interviewed for the job.

But Batley assistant boss Lingard has been named as the successor to March who, after four years at Lawkholme Lane, has not had his contract renewed following a failure to win promotion back into the Championship.

Lingard has been instrumental in working under John Kear and helping Batley to finish third in the Championship this year.

Chairman Gary Fawcett said: “We are very pleased to sign Craig as our new head coach. 

“Batley have delivered very successfully in the new league format over the past two seasons and he has been key in this achievement. 

“Craig understands the processes and systems that support the level of success Batley are enjoying and will bring this to Cougar Park.  “

Lingard said: "I am delighted to be given the opportunity and responsibility of becoming the new head coach at Keighley Cougars for at least the next two seasons.

“They are a club with a great history within the game and I hope that I can play a part in returning the Cougars to the Championship during my tenure.

“This is a great opportunity for the club over the coming two to three seasons to create something special and put systems in place that will benefit the club for years to come.

“It is my aim to make the environment at Keighley one that is professional in its approach, supports the development of players and works hard and any player who stays or joins the club must buy into this approach to give the Cougars fans what they deserve – a team that gives everything they have got.

“We will be talking to existing players at the club over the coming weeks whilst also looking at which players to bring in to the culture we want to create.

“There will be a focus on recruiting young and hungry players that want to develop and have the opportunity to play in a high performing environment.

“We will look to build the immediate future around these young players alongside players with experience to create sustainability and longevity to give the club the best possible chance to succeed.”

Scott Law, Adam Brook, and Jamel Goodall are already contracted for next season after signing two-year deals prior to the beginning of the year.

James Feather and Brendon Rawlins have both agreed terms on new contracts for next season.

Former Hull KR Sonny Esslemont has left Cougars after one season and joined Hull-based amateur outfit Bransholme Dales.

Cougars have also confirmed that John Oakes is to take a year out of the game to spend more time with his young family.