New Keighley Cougars head coach Craig Lingard is hoping to use the experience he’s gained from working under John Kear in his new job.
Lingard had worked as Assistant Coach at Batley Bulldogs under Head Coach John Kear with the two enjoying a very successful 2016 season, as Batley finished 3rd in the Kingstone Press Championship, qualfying for the Middle 8’s in the process.
Kear left Batley Bulldogs after six years in charge to become Director Of Rugby at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. It was announced that Matt Diskin would replace him as head coach for next season.
Keighley Cougars finished 6th in Kingstone Press League 1 last season, the third tier of Rugby League in England but Lingard is hoping his time with Kear will help him transform the Cougars into a promotion winning team in the future. He said: “I think it has really helped mould who I am as a coach working with John Kear for the last four or five years. it’s been a really exceptional experience for me picking up something from John Kear who’s won two challenge cups who’s managed 3 international teams, managed in super league for x amount of years if you can’t learn off a guy like that you’re not going to learn of anybody”.
“He gave me a call and congratulated me on the job. He’s offered to give me advice on players that are recommended towards me, he will give his assessment on them”.
Lingard will now focus on building his own legacy with his new club and said he wants to install an exiting style of rugby at the Cougars: “I want to play a pretty open style of rugby I like it when teams play. I’m not an advocate of five drives and a kick I think Rugby as well as being a sport it’s a business as well and as a business you have to have a go at the product itself and I want people to come through the gates and enjoy the product that we’re giving them to watch.
I will be giving my players a lot of responsibility and a lot of ownership and ask them to make decisions on the field.
I don’t like to call it structures because structures makes it sound like what it is, it’s too ridged so I will be giving them shapes and systems to work to and it’s up to them to react to what happens on the field”.
Changes to the wage structures for the Championship and League One mean Lingard will be forced to make major changes to the Keighley squad and believes it would be tough to bring in any players from Batley : “No it’s going to be difficult with the finances. Batley are a Championship team a different financial structure now in terms of wages to the League One structure.
Keighley are re-structuring from last year as well their budget has come down quite considerably so the players we’re looking to get into Keighley aren’t a short term fix anymore. We are looking at a 2 to 3 year plan to mould a team around these young players and play a bit of exiting rugby league”.
Asked about his target for next season Lingard said: “While we’re not writing next season off we’re being realistic. You’ve got Toronto coming in who are going to be probably deservedly favourites to win the league quite convincingly and you have another 7 or 8 teams who are fighting outside of that for the remaining promotion places into the championship so realistically will we be in the position to challenge for that promotion spot, probably not next season but looking longer term season 2 season 3 that’s certainly something we want to do”.
Full interview with new Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard.