CRAIG Lingard is looking forward to seeing Liam Senior in action for Cougars next season after the youngster arrived with top-level plaudits.

The second row forward turned down the offer of a first-team deal at Wakefield for the 2018 campaign so he could focus on his degree.

Lingard is delighted that the former Trinity under-19s player instead opted to join Keighley and said his signature was met by a ringing endorsement from within the game.

The head coach said: "I had a call from Mark Applegarth, who I coached at Batley, who works with Wakefield's under-19s.

"He recommended Harvey Hallas (former Wakefield prop who has also joined Cougars) and Liam but I did some research on them as well.

"I spoke to (Wakefield head of rugby) John Kear and he absolutely raved about Liam Senior. He said he was outstanding.

"He was offered a full-time first team deal but he is doing a pharmacy degree which his work are paying for.

"He has decided that rather than dropping out of work and his studies, he wants to get a qualification behind him just in case it doesn’t work out for him and that shows how smart he is.

"He doesn’t want to be playing in League One and neither do we. He has got that ambition and that drive."

Lingard expects Senior, who won the Senior Academy Man of Steel in 2016, to provide vital competition in a Cougars squad who are determined to make the top five play-offs at least next year.

The youngster, who made two appearances on dual registration for Dewsbury in the Championship last season, can also play at centre as well as in the pack.

Lingard continued: "As soon as we announced his signing, the amount of people – players and coaches – who contacted me to say ‘you’ve got a real good player on your hands’ speaks volumes for how he is rated by his peers and his coaches in the game.

"I’m really looking forward to working with him this season and seeing what he has got.

"We’ve got Josh Tonks primarily on our left and Josh Lynam primarily on the right and he is going to provide some real competition for places with them."

Senior has high hopes for success with Cougars, who have now had several weeks of pre-season under their belt.

He said: "There are some great players and great staff and I'm looking to go far with the club."

The forward admitted his decision to opt for part-time rather than full-time rugby league was not an easy one to make.

He said: "It was a hard choice and kept me up some nights. Everyone has that aspiration to be a professional rugby player at the top level, but long term I feel like I've made the right choice.

"I feel like my education is very important but I'm getting the best of both worlds playing rugby at a good standard and I'm getting my job and a career out of it as well.

"League One is a very competitive division. I know a few players who play for other clubs that have just signed so I know when the season comes it'll be pretty tough on the field.

"This club have got really good history and is very professional."

Arriving at Keighley from Wakefield with team-mate Hallas helped him make the transition.

He said: "I'm really good friends with Harvey and it makes it that bit easier that I've got someone to talk to.

"You've got the nerves of settling into a new place and it's not easy but after the first session I felt like I'd known everyone for ages and everyone's made me feel welcome. I couldn't be happier here."