RITCHIE Hawkyard admits the way he has bounced back from injury persuaded him to shelve retirement plans.

The Cougars full back has been in fine fettle since returning after being involved in a horrific clash of heads with Hunslet's Jimmy Watson back in April, which sidelined him for nearly three months.

His comeback has coincided with an upturn in Keighley's form, with Craig Lingard's side aiming for their third straight win in the Super Eights when Toronto Wolfpack visit on Sunday.

And, along with hooker Nathan Conroy, the 31-year-old signed a new contract last week to keep him at the club until the end of next season.

Hawkyard said: "I was gutted to get the injury and was thinking about retiring at the end of the year.

"It was not that I had had enough but I wondered if my body could still take it. After that injury, it was playing on my mind whether to carry on or stop.

"I thought I'd give it a game and see how I hold up and since I've come back I've been fitter and better than I was at the start of the season.

"I don’t want to be one of those players who stays on and on and just fades out of the game. I've proved to myself I am still fit enough and good enough to carry on.

"I'd like to go out on a high and as long as I have got something to give then I’ll carry on and I said that to Craig and Gary (Fawcett) before I signed."

Hawkyard had a metal plate inserted into his jaw and cheekbone after suffering breaks to both in the accidental clash with Watson, which also saw him with a fractured eye socket.

Getting the first game under his belt following his recovery – the 30-30 draw at Workington which featured a stunning comeback from Cougars – was important to him psychologically.

Hawkyard, who was due back for root canal surgery today on teeth damaged in the incident, said: "I've a strong personality and strong mentality and just thought I needed to put it to the back of my mind.

"But the first game at Workington, coming off the bench, it was in my mind what it was going to be like.

"On my first tackle I took a high shot and felt like it didn’t really hurt, then I was on the end of a knee as well but came through it and felt a lot stronger mentally.

"Once I got the first contact out of the way, I felt I was going to be all right. I've been through games and, whether it's shots to my eye, cheek or jaw after a stray arm or knee, I feel stronger than ever."