Cougars coach March moves in to sign up Rhinos young forward Chandler

Joe Chandler has been given a one-year deal

Joe Chandler has been given a one-year deal

First published in Keighley Cougars by

Cougars player-coach Paul March has made Joe Chandler his latest signing after handing the former Leeds Rhinos youngster a one-year deal.

The 23-year-old forward played in the Academy ranks at Headingley and then moved to Oldham before a spell at Halifax and a loan stint at Dewsbury last season.

The acquisition of Chandler (pictured), who has played prop and second row, could signal the final piece of the jigsaw in March’s squad for 2013 following his appointment as successor to Jason Demetriou.

The former Wakefield man has been impressed with the application and enthusiasm of his squad in their first few training sessions.

Cougars are building towards their opening pre-season friendly with Halifax on Boxing Day on home soil (12pm kick-off).

They will also face Batley away on January 13 (2pm kick-off) and hope to arrange another home game against Bradford Bulls.

March said: “I’ve been very impressed with the lads so far.

“We did our first ball session last week and they looked quite sharp with the ball in hand considering it was one of their first few sessions.

“Obviously some of the lads don’t know each other yet but Paul Royston, our conditioner, has been happy with the shape the lads have come back in.

“I’ve been pleased with the attitude they have shown so far.

“We’ve got a lot of young lads and they come with bundles of enthusiasm.

“Training has been good and the new players are already commenting how much they’re enjoying it.

“It’s exciting times at the moment and we’re looking forward to playing Halifax on Boxing Day.

“It will be a good test for us and we’re hoping to play a stronger Bradford team as well.

“We beat them well last season in pre-season but hopefully they will give us more of a game this time around.”

March revealed his desire to improve on last season’s sixth-placed finish in the Championship, despite the departure of a raft of high-profile names such as Demetriou, Semi Tadulala, Michael Korkidas and Sam Obst.

It was revealed last week that former Bulls winger Tadulala has become reunited with Demetriou at Queensland Cup outfit Northern Pride.

The Fijian winger, who grew up in North Queensland and has family in Cairns, spent last season with Demetriou at Cougar Park before both men headed Down Under at the end of the campaign.

Yet March added: “With Semi, Obsty and Korky leaving, it’s opened the door for all the lads here now.

“We want to kick on from last season’s sixth-placed finish, get into the play-offs and then see where we go from there.

“The players have come back raring to go and seem mentally refreshed as well as physically ready.

“All I’ve got to do is point them in the right direction and it should be a successful season.”

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