MICK O'Neill says he is scouring the planet for new players for next season after reflecting on a 'topsy-turvy' first six months back in charge of Keighley Cougars.

The club's chairman, who arrived back at Cougars Park in January, says he wants to leave a lasting sporting legacy in the town following a non-stop initial six months attempting to revive Cougars' fortunes.

With the club second-from-bottom of Betfred League One despite chalking off a 12-point pre-season deduction, O'Neill has been meeting players in Australia in viewing of signing them for an assault on promotion from te game's third tier in 2020.

He said: "We're looking for players in Australia.

"We can storm the division next year, I hope so anyway. We will have a good side next term.

"After this season finishes, I will stay in Keighley until at least November and then have a couple of months off and go back to Australia and then get back for next year."

Despite their lowly position, there has been a huge turnaround and a huge amount of work done by O'Neill and co off the field to build Cougars' reputation within the sport.

O'Neill says it has been a challenging, eventful and emotional six months at the helm of the re-incarnation of Cougarmania. Now 78, he hopes to lead the club's charge back into the Championship.

Sacking head coach Craig Lingard in May, replacing him with rookie Rhys Lovegrove, bringing razzmatazz back to this area of Keighley, including an appearance, by Coronation Street actor Anthony Cotton, O'Neill says there hasn't been a dull moment for him back at Cougars.

O'Neill added: "It's been topsy-turvy.

"It's been an experience. I did not expect to do as much physical work as soon as we got here.

"The reception we have received has been good. To have the 12 points deducted was a shock. To get them taken off was a bit unfair.

"It was hard to sack the coach, Craig, it was daunting. I didn't like doing it, but we had to do it. He was a nice person. I was upset doing it.

"Phil Larder going was a bit of a blow. I am fully behind Rhys now. The players like him. He is adapting nicely. He has some good ideas. He will do a good job. We are looking to next year now."

With just a few games left of the season, O'Neill is already looking towards his, and Cougars', future and re-establishing their name in the game.

O'Neill said: "It's given me a new spark of life. I'm really enjoying it. I get emotional at times when I have to sack coaches.

"It's just up to us to be different. I want to get to 80 doing it. I want to leave a good sporting complex there and get us into the Championship.

"It's a burning ambition that Cougars have a good name after what's been going on.

"We want to be a decent club and want to bring people down."

Meanwhile, O'Neill and Lovegrove will take part in a questions and answers session at Cougar Park on Friday, July 19 at the club's Hall of Fame Bar from 7.30pm. Free entrance for Cougars Supporters' Club members, £2 for non-club members.

The fundraising Cougar Park Rocks will take place at the club 's ground on Saturday, July 20. It is the latest event for player Josh Lynam's testimonial year.

Live bands will take to the stage between 1pm and 7pm. This will be followed by DJ sets from 8pm. For tickets, priced £15 for full access, £10 for retro night and DJs only, under-14s free when accompanied by an adult, go to ticket-source.co.uk/josh-lynam-testimonial. Funds will go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The Cougars first-team squad held an opening training session at Cougar Park on Tuesday night, where the squad got to meet their fans and sign autographs and pose for photographs.

Macauley Hallett made his 100th career appearance when Cougars defeated West Wales Raiders last Sunday.

The club also celebrated a milestone. Cougars tweeted on Sunday: "We also have another reason to celebrate at #CougarPride as on this day 119 years ago, Keighley Rugby League was born. We've led the way and revolutionised this fantastic sport ever since."