Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
York City Knights in firing line
KEIGHLEY Cougars are targeting tomorrow’s game against York City Knights as the one that will kickstart their season.
Former Knights player-coach Paul March, who took over at Cougar Park in the winter, is yet to get his reign off the mark after six Kingstone Press Championship matches, although four of those games have been against champion pretenders in Leigh, Halifax, Batley and, most latterly, Featherstone.
However, former Super League star March says he has not been too downhearted by displays and is confident that losing run will end soon, with his former club firmly in the Cougars’ firing line.
“I’m reasonably pleased with how we’re going, performance-wise,” he said. “We’re so close but so far, and confidence has been a bit low because we’ve played these big teams. But we’re creating opportunities, and we just have to take them, which we’re not doing at the minute.
“This is a big game for us. We’re targeting it to kickstart our season and move on after that.”
March, 33, was controversially sacked by the Knights in 2009 after 22 months in charge, after which he led Hunslet into the Championship before being displaced there too and joining Keighley ahead of the 2012 season, initially as a player and, now, as player-coach. He says getting that elusive win is more important than proving a point against former employers.
“If it was Hunslet, or Workington or Barrow this weekend it would the same for me,” he said. “This is one we’re targeting to start us off. York had a big win last week over Workington and they will be full of confidence. We have to match their enthusiasm and hopefully play with a bit better skill than we have in recent weeks.”
March, having started on the bench, was sent off for dissent at the end of last week’s 52-10 loss to Featherstone, but his disciplinary – he is set to contest the charge – is not until next Tuesday so he is free to play this weekend.
Full-back Richard Owen and forward Jonny Walker have been recalled by parent club Castleford but Gavin Duffy is available again for Keighley’s back line and Ireland international Sean Hesketh, a one-time York prop who joined the Cougars from Halifax over the winter, is poised to come back in.
Cougars in focus
Last year: sixth
Current league position: 14th
Player-coach: Paul March EX-Knights player-boss Paul March was tasked with continuing the fine work of Jason Demetriou, who went home to Australia after leading the team to promotion and consolidation in the Championship, but he has had to do so without departed star men Michael Korkidas, Semi Tadulala and Sam Obst, plus retired hooker James Haythornthwaite.
March has been playing more at loose-forward this year, leaving former Wigan starlet Scott Leatherbarrow to form a half-back partnership with Wales international Danny Jones.
Paul White and Daley Williams added to a decent back line, though the latter is currently out with broken ribs.
Squad tomorrow (possible): Paul White, Richie Barnett, Ben Sagar, Elliott Cosgrove, Gavin Duffy, Danny Jones, Scott Leather-barrow, Andy Shickell, James Feather, Brendan Rawlins, Ollie Pursglove, Charlie Martin, Paul March. Subs: Scott Law, Jody Sheriffe, Joe Chandler, Sean Hesketh.
One to watch: new scrum-half Scott Leatherbarrow shone enough in pre-season for player-coach March to give him his number seven shirt.
Partnership club: Castleford Tigers.
Season prediction: not enough to compete with the league’s upper crust and, given their losses, will do well to match last season’s finish, but should have enough to see off the poorer teams.
Ground: Cougar Park.
Miles from York: 42. For supporters’ bus info, phone 07763 121732.
Nearest train station: Keighley (change at Leeds) 0.7 miles. For train times and fares, visit www.tpexpress.co.uk