HE has played for Great Britain, in a Challenge Cup final and the Super League, but lining up for Keighley Cougars is giving Jamie Thackray a renewed love of the game.

The 39-year-old was Cougars' most eye-catching capture of pre-season, after he had hung up his boots following a spell at Doncaster in 2017.

But Thackray has been rejuvenated by the return of Cougarmania and now hopes to play on for another season after this, if his body allows.

The prop says he feels buoyed by Cougars' young squad and the thought of proving people wrong, as they aim to claw back their minus 12-point start-off position in this year's Betfred League One.

After a 28-16 loss at Whitehaven in their season opener a fortnight ago, and a blank weekend, Cougars play the first league game of their new era against Coventry Bears on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

Thackray said: "I'm really enjoying it at Cougars.

"Me joining was a last-minute thing. Jack Miller had already joined and he said they were decent guys down there. So I thought 'Why not?'

"I'm still quite fit and feeling good.

"I had about one-and-a-half years out. It was good to have a break, but I now have that buzz back. I don't think it matters how old you are. I think I have one or two years left in me and I'm hoping to be at the Cougars.

"The coach seemed happy with how I played against Whitehaven and I don't think I was out of place. I hope my body holds up and I'm feeling good at the moment."

Thackray is also enjoying passing on his experience notched up from a 20-year career which began at Hunslet Hawks in 1997.

His impressive CV also includes spells at Castleford Tigers, Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos and London Broncos.

He won three Great Britain caps in 2005, the same year he started on the interchange bench for Hull FC in the Challenge Cup final.

He also enjoyed a spell in the Super League, playing 20 times for Crusaders in 2010.

But it is only the here and now that matters to Thackray; the past is the past. His sole focus is his present life at Cougar Park.

He added: "I talk to the younger lads and give them encouragement. I can take them to one side and pass on some of my experience. I have my coaching badges.

"There is a really good atmosphere within the boys. All of the lads are excited and looking forward to the home game against Coventry.

"The boys are buzzing. Everybody loved the atmosphere at Whitehaven. To put a performance like we did shows we are doing well. We were not far off winning the game against Whitehaven. We played well for 65 to 70 minutes.

"We want to prove people wrong and we have a decent squad.

"We are playing catch-up with the other teams. It's a challenge. Anyone can beat anyone and we would like to finish off in the play-offs. But we are taking it one game at a time.

"We need to claw the points back. There are six games that we need to win on the bounce. Anything is possible."