Numbers up as Keighley Cougars coach Paul March reveals squad list thinking

Keighley News: New Cougars recruit Paul Handforth, pictured lifting the Northern Rail Cup trophy during his time as Batley Bulldogs captain, is one of the best half-backs outside Super League New Cougars recruit Paul Handforth, pictured lifting the Northern Rail Cup trophy during his time as Batley Bulldogs captain, is one of the best half-backs outside Super League

Paul March admits he awarded the Cougars’ 2014 squad numbers on the basis of where he sees each player in his pecking order.

Keighley player-coach March has named new recruit Paul Handforth as his number seven following the departure of Scott Leatherbarrow.

James Craven will wear the number one jersey as successor to Craig Moss, who left the club at the end of last season.

Ash Lindsay has been handed number 13 following his arrival from Batley and will therefore start the season as March’s first-choice loose forward.

Danny Lawton and Gavin Duffy appear to have fallen way down the pecking order after going from numbers four and two respectively last term to 19 and 20 for 2014.

March said: “When I look at the squad, that would be my best 17.

“It’s up to everybody else to make sure they do all they can during pre-season to put themselves in contention for a place in the team.

“While the squad numbers have now been allocated, places are still very much up for grabs.”

March believes Handforth, long regarded as one of the best half-backs outside Super League, will prove a major success following his arrival from Halifax.

He feels Handforth will give the Cougars the direction they lacked at times last season when Leatherbarrow played.

March explained: “Paul Handforth is a quality player and hopefully he will give us something that Scotty didn’t give us last season.

“I brought Scott in as a project and felt I could mould him into a top player over the next couple of years.

“Maybe I talked him up a bit too much in the press because he obviously feels he’s going on to bigger and better things with Batley.

“Good luck to him – but I’m excited about the signings we have made and the season ahead.”

Meanwhile, James Haley is to undergo a shoulder operation on December 11 and will be out of action for up to three months.

Cougars squad numbers: 1 James Craven, 2 Richie Barnett, 3 Elliott Cosgrove, 4 James Haley, 5 Paul White, 6 Danny Jones (team captain), 7 Paul Handforth, 8 Andy Shickell, 9 James Feather (club captain), 10 Sean Hesketh, 11 Josh Lynam, 12 Brendon Rawlins, 13 Ash Lindsay, 14 Paul March (player-coach), 15 Scott Law, 16 Jode Sheriffe, 17 Ben Sagar, 18 Neil Cherryholme, 19 Danny Lawton, 20 Gavin Duffy, 21 Jesse Sheriffe, 22 Daley Williams, 23 Sean Kelly, 24 Matthew Bailey, 25 Lewis Graham, 26 Ryan Patchett, 27 Jack Lee, 28 Ben Stead, 29 Charlie Eccleston, 30 Jordan Aitchison, 31 Chris Watson, 32 Ross Peltier.

* The Cougars Foundation ran a tournament at Addingham Primary School featuring over 140 pupils. Boys winners were Burley & Woodhead A, while Addingham won the girls event. Both teams go through to Keighley’s champion schools competition at Cougar Park on May 8.

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