CRAIG Lingard admits silverware and local bragging rights makes Cougars’ trip to Bradford Bulls more than just a pre-season friendly.

The Keighley head coach is more concerned with performances than results ahead of the League One kick-off in ten days’ time.

But he accepts the increased importance of Sunday’s clash for Cougars fans as his team bid to retain the Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy, which they won 25-24 last year thanks to a late Matty Beharrell drop goal.

Lingard said: “It does mean a bit more than our other games so far. Even though it is a pre-season friendly we’ve got to realise the importance for spectators.

“It means a lot more to them and the local community than it potentially does to us for the longevity of the season.

“We will use it as we have every other pre-season friendly and look to learn from it.

“But we want to win the game. We want to be going into the season on the front foot and beat our local rivals, albeit in a friendly.

“You get bragging rights, we are holders of that trophy and we want to keep our hands on it for another 12 months.”

Sunday’s clash is a dress rehearsal for the League One clash at Cougar Park between the teams on March 11.

But Lingard will not be reading too much into this weekend as he expects Bulls could include several different personnel when points are at stake next month.

He said: “It won’t play too much of a bearing on when we play them in the league due to their relationship with Toronto Wolfpack under the dual-reg system.

“I don’t think they’ll have any against us on Sunday but come the league game there could potentially be four or five Toronto players.

“John Kear has not been at Bradford for a massive amount of time so he is still learning about his players, what their strengths and weaknesses are and where they need to improve.

“So he will be looking at this game as a learning curve as we will.”

Sunday’s derby will see Lingard come up against Kear for the first time as a head coach, having worked as his assistant at Batley Bulldogs. The pair remain good friends and Lingard said: “I speak to John quite regularly and sometimes call in at Bradford and have a coffee with him before I come through to Keighley.

“It will be great to come up against him. What he hasn’t achieved in the game is probably not worth achieving.

“He is a legend in the British game and if I can emulate even a small percentage of what he has done I will be happy with my coaching career.”

l More Cougars – P62