Cougars player-coach Jason Demetriou believes this weekend’s trip to French side Toulouse can provide an ideal bonding experience for his new-look squad.

The Keighley outfit began their campaign with a 22-16 defeat at the hands of Batley in the Northern Rail Cup last weekend.

They are now preparing for a tough journey to Toulouse on Saturday (4.30pm) in the same competition as they seek to claim their first win of the season.

It will involve an early-morning meet in Keighley on Friday morning before the squad travel to Liverpool John Lennon Airport for their flight to France.

Demetriou said: “We fly from Liverpool at 7am on Friday and it’s a big sacrifice for the players, a number of whom are taking one or two days off work to play in Saturday’s game.

“In that respect, some of them could be losing out on wages and that shows their commitment to the cause.

“We’re meeting at Coug-ar Park at 3am and flying back to East Midlands on Sunday afternoon, so it’s a hectic schedule.

“But at the same time it’s a good chance to get away and promises to be a great experience to travel to a different country together as a squad to play a French team.

“Having the opportunity to bond together, the flights, sharing rooms together, is good for team spirit.”

Demetriou is also looking for the right result after his men came off second-best in last weekend’s reverse against Batley.

John Kear’s Bulldogs showed outstanding tenacity to come from 16-4 down and claim the spoils at Cougar Park.

Demetriou added: “We were disappointed with what happened against Batley because the game was there to be won.

“We really struggled at the back end of the game, mentally and physically, but more mentally.

“At the same time, though, Batley are a class outfit and will be up there again this season.

“However, we’ll go into the Toulouse game in confident mood and believing that we can get a result.”

Cougars are boosted by the return of Ollie Pursglove for the trip to France after he was absent from last week’s defeat with an ankle injury.

Demetriou added: “We missed Ollie last week and it’s a big plus to have him back.”

However, winger Semi Tadulala will be absent as he is currently without a passport.

Demetriou said: “We’ve known for a while that we would be without Semi due to his passport being with immigration but we’re still looking strong squad-wise.”

l Community Cougars Foundation and Your Sporting Chance staff members were present at the RFL’s launch of its new Equality and Diversity Programme ‘Tackle It’.

The campaign addresses six key equality strands of race, sexuality, gender, disability, age and religion.