Head coach Paul March believes consistent team selection in pivotal positions is important for Keighley Cougars this campaign.

His side open their Championship season at Batley on Sunday, February 3 on the back of some mixed friendly results.

But he is confident of building on the work achieved by his predecessor Jason Demetriou, who led Cougars to a sixth place finish in 2012.

March said: “I think every team has strengthened and it should be a good competition this year.

“We’re no different and we’ve got a lot of good Championship players in the squad now.

“We need to be more consistent. Not just on the field but also with team selection, especially in the pivotal positions such as 6, 7, 9, 1 and 13.

“If we can keep those players fit and stay consistent in that area and play the same people in those positions we will get better results on the field.

“Last year we tried to fit everybody into the team when sometimes we should have really said ‘this is how it’s going to be’.

“Hopefully if we can get Scott Leatherbarrow and Danny Jones firing as a partnership at half-back, with Buster (James Feather) at hooker then we can get that consistency and play some good rugby.”

March has played at half-back himself for much of his career but he has ear-marked a different role for himself.

He said: “I’ve got a Wales international at six (Jones) and a promising youngster at seven (Leatherbarrow), but I’m still going to play.

“I see myself playing more of a hooking role or loose forward this year, and I think that will help Scott mature a lot more with him being such a young lad.

“If we can keep everybody fit and consistent in those positions then it doesn’t matter who I change in the other positions.

“People can come in and do a job.”

March’s men capped their pre-season off in disappointing fashion with a 36-22 defeat at Doncaster, which was their third loss in four friendly outings.

March said: “We were 18-0 down after 15 minutes at Doncaster and that suggests our attitude wasn’t right.

“We weren’t at the races and, in fact, only played for about 30 minutes of the game.

“That’s not good enough and we need to be competing for the full 80 minutes of every match.”

“We’ve got a lot more in the tank than what we showed during the course of the game.

“We showed we can trouble sides but defensively we weren’t there, particularly during that first half.

“Yes, these games are friendlies and maybe the lads don’t want to get injured, but that’s no excuse.

“In rugby league you have to be at it physically in every game you play but our contact and physicality was poor.

“You can’t switch off or you will get punished.”