Cougars aim to entertain

Coach Paul March favours expansive style of play

Coach Paul March favours expansive style of play

First published in Sport

Paul March has promised supporters a more expansive style of play when he takes charge of Cougars for the first time at home to Halifax on Boxing Day (noon).

March (pictured) was appointed as player-coach at Keighley following Jason Demetriou’s departure and has vowed to make Keighley a team of entertainers.

The veteran half-back, who enjoyed a fine playing career in Super League before dropping down into the Champ-ionship, says every player in his team will follow his philosophy.

The opening pre-season friendly with Karl Harrison’s men will give March the first opportunity to showcase a number of new signings and style of play.

March said: “We’re very much looking forward to it.

“We’ve got some new signings and obviously it’s my first match in charge.

“Hopefully people will be able to see what I’ve changed at the club in such a short space of time.

“Obviously every-one is buzzing to get on the field and get some game time under their belts.

“Is it a different style of play? Oh yes, I believe so.

“We’re going to be a lot more expansive with the ball in hand but defensively not much is going to change.

“We were probably the best team in the league defensively last year and there’s no point changing much with that.

“But we will definitely be more expansive with the ball in hand and we’ve got a big set of forwards who can offload so there will be a lot of second-phase rugby.”

March said that there will be a marked difference from Demetriou’s more pragmatic approach and said his front-rowers will be given the chance to show off their handling skills.

He added: “We’ve got Sean Hesketh, Scott Law and Andy Shickell who can offload.

“Last year the game-plan didn’t allow our props to do that.

“We now have the freedom to give the forwards – actually everybody in the team – the freedom to play what they see.

“If a certain play is on then they should back themselves to execute that play.

“I’m sure we will get our rewards from that approach.

“I’m a half-back and I’m trying to get my team to play like a half-back would want them to play.

“We’re certainly going to do that and be expansive – the ball is going to be in the air for a long time.

“Hopefully in the first game they won’t fall back into old habits.

“Hopefully they will play for 80 minutes like I want them to and give a good account of themselves.”

Cougars were condemned to a heartbreaking play-off defeat against Fax at The Shay last season in what proved to be Demetriou’s final game in charge.

March, who was outstanding that night and plans to play at hooker or loose forward this term, said: “All the players who played that night were very disappointed and are keen to get back on the field against the same opposition.

“Boxing Day is all about making sure people are learning the systems.

“It’s not so much about the result – it’s about giving players game time and hopefully seeing some of the things you’ve been working on in training executed on the field.”

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