THE rebuilding process at Keighley Cougars starts with tomorrow night's clash at Hunslet, according to Paul Royston.

Cougars' head of strength & conditioning says it is now time to draw a line in the sand following the shock sacking of head coach Craig Lingard last month and for the club for move on during the second half of the season.

Keighley have a West Yorkshire derby tomorrow night at Hunslet's South Leeds Stadium (7.30pm kick-off) following a blank weekend due to the Coral Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

Now Royston says he has been encouraged by the response in training of the Cougars' squad since they were thrashed 52-12 by Oldham Roughyeds in their last match in Betfred League One on May 25.

He conceded the players were shocked by Lingard's departure, but the arrival of former coach Phil Larder has given everyone a boost. Royston says Larder has been encouraged by the squad's work ethic during training.

Larder, who was coach during the days of Cougarmania in the mid-1990s, this week returned to the club as director of coaching.

He will work alongside the club's existing coaches, Royston and Rhys Lovegrove.

Larder has extensive experience in both rugby codes including as England Rugby Union's defence coach under Sir Clive Woodward.

Cougars have been handed a further boost by the return of talisman Benn Hardcastle after he served a three-match ban, a spell which featured three league and cup defeats. Playing Gary Thornton's Hunslet is a tough challenge for Cougars as they lie in fourth place after winning six of their opening nine games.

Cougars themselves, who have won five and drawn one of their opening nine league games, will be aiming to get into positive points, after being one away for the last few weeks. This follows a 12-point deduction during pre-season for their change in ownership.

Royston said: "The boys have responded well to the Oldham defeat in terms of enthusiasm in training and working hard.

"There are good preparations in place this week for the Hunslet game.

"There has been that much instability in the club. The lads were a bit shocked after Craig went. It does have an effect. That can upset the rhythm.

"We're hoping Been being back will make a big difference.

"We want to get back to putting in a positive performance. People are always looking at the performances. If we can get a result at Hunslet we will be back into positive points. It gives us a short-term goal.

"I know a lot of the Hunslet players. They are a good, solid outfit. They are a top team in this division.

"Playing them is definitely a good yardstick to judge us by.

"When we came against Oldham we let ourselves down badly. That's why it's good that Rhys and Phil have got to know the players. We can start to rebuild again.

"Phil was with us for training last Thursday. He met the group. He said he was pleasantly encouraged by their work ethic in training.

Meanwhile, Cougars have continued to plan for the future by bolstering their ranks.

Aaron Levy has put pen to paper on a two-year contract with the Cougars Park club.

The youngster was sidelined last month after having his appendix removed.

He become the seventh member of the existing Cougars squad to commit their future to the club. The others have included Hardcastle, Taylor Prell and Alfie Seeley.

Meanwhile, Cougars have signed Danny King has joined the club on a week-by-week basis from Betfred Championship side Dewsbury Rams.

The 21-year-old second row has previously been on the books at Bradford Bulls.

He has made three appearances for Dewsbury this season, two as substitute, and all in the Coral Challenge Cup.

Royston added: "I have seen Danny play a few times.

"He was not playing too much at Dewsbury so it makes sense for him to come to us and see if there is a future for him with us.

"We need a few more personnel to cover.

"Not too many boys have signed up over the last season or so due to the financial turmoil at the club. There is definitely a desire to get more people on board.

"We're building for next year. There are pleasing signs in the background. There has been a lot of talk with Phil coming on board.

"The club is working hard with the reserve team and other sports in then town. There are other things going on behind the scenes, a lot of people who work hard at Cougars. There is something about that community spirit and passion that's there."

Meanwhile, James 'Buster' Feather has been named in the Betfred League One Team of the Month for May.

Cougars Reserves lost 39-32 to the British Army at Cougar Park last Friday night.

Josh Lynam kicked off his testimonial celebrations with a launch event at Cougars' base last Sunday.