CRAIG Lingard believes keeping James Feather at Keighley Cougars is important for the club's identity following his move on to the coaching staff after retirement.

Feather, known as 'Buster', made over 300 appearances for the club over 15 years and the head coach says the former hooker's presence at Cougar Park remains vital.

"Keeping 'Buster' is important because you've got to keep that identity as a club," he said.

"Go back to the 2015 team and there's a vast change now to the squad we've got this year. You've got to keep the identity of Keighley Cougars and having someone like Buster down here is going to have a massive impact on what we want to do.

"The hookers that we've got this year, some of them are looking for a bit of experience, for a bit of guidance as well, and he'll be great for those guys," Lingard continued, with Keighley having signed two new hookers in the off-season in Joe Lumb and Ryan Wright, who will compete for the number nine role along with Nathan Conroy.

"I think for Buster as well, stepping over from being a player to a coach, he's got a lot to learn and a lot to pick up, and I think it will do him good."

Feather's presence offers Lingard continuity in a squad that has seen plenty of ins and outs but not the same overhaul that took place 12 months ago, with a large core of last season's personnel staying on.

The Keighley head coach is pleased with his off-season business as he looks to improve on a promising first year in charge.

"You can't overhaul a squad year on year. You've got to keep 75 or 80 per cent then bring in the quality around that, and that's what we've done," he said.

"We wanted to get some experience in, but if you want a prop forward who's played in excess of 200 Championship games, they come at a premium.

"We've brought in the right mix of people we think we need at the club.

Lingard continued: "We've got six players who have played over 100 first-team games, three who have played into the 90s and 17 who have played either Championship or Super League.

"So we've got a little bit of experience there. Maybe not as much as I would have liked to have brought in but the players that we've brought in have not been panic buys. They've been considered."

"We've spoke to everybody that we've brought in and discussed what we want to achieve this year and moving on into two years' time as well.

"Everybody who is here is buying into that and we're looking forward to getting started."