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Keighley Cougars recruitment drive not over yet
Paul March is satisfied his Cougars squad are shaping up as a force to be reckoned with as he sets his sights on making further additions ahead of the 2014 campaign.
The majority of March’s squad have committed themselves to the club for next season and the player-coach has made three new singings in Halifax half-back Paul Handforth, Dewsbury full back James Craven and Featherstone forward Jack Lee (pictured).
March currently has 24 players signed up for next term and is aiming to start next season with a squad of “26 or 27”, so two or three more new recruits are expected.
The Cougar Park chief said: “When you look at what kind of squad we have now compared to what we had 12 months ago, we have to be pleased.
“We’ve added Paul Handforth, James Craven and Jack Lee as well as James Haley and Elliott Cosgrove.
“That’s five quality players having come into the squad and most of the players have re-signed.
“Therefore everyone knows the structure of the squad and the way we do things, with the exception of Paul, James Craven and Jack. Hopefully we can hit the ground running.
“We’ve got 24 players signed up for next season and can hopefully have 26 or 27 by the time the campaign gets underway.
“We’ll have our reserve team as well, so if anybody does impress in that then they can make the step up.”
Meanwhile, the dual-registration partnership between Cougars and Super League outfit Castleford Tigers appears to be over.
The one-year deal was agreed at the start of last season and the then Tigers coach Ian Millward provided a number of his players to play for Cougars on dual registration.
But after Millward was sacked, former Leeds Rhinos coach Daryl Powell took over at Wheldon Road and March has had little contact with him.
The system has attracted criticism from many quarters in the game and the three-year partnership between Hull FC and York City Knights was recently scrapped after less than nine months.
March said: “Our agreement was only a 12-month deal but since Daryl took charge, we haven’t heard from Castleford.
“We’ll just do it on our own and I’m sure everybody else will do as well this time.
“It depends on what calibre of player you’re going to get.
“The players, for me, to get on dual-reg are those who are just too old for Under-19s.
“Are we going to get them on a season-long loan like Charlie Martin?
“Charlie was playing well for us and he went back and played four or five first-team games for Castleford.
“It worked well for us but, long-term, you can’t just have players coming in one week and out the other because it disrupts the flow of the team your team spirit as you’re always leaving someone out for them.”
* Jordan Aitchison has re-signed for Cougars next year.
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