COUGARS Women have today completed the signing of Keighley-born England international Jess Courtman.

Originally from Ingrow, Courtman joins her home-town club following five years at Bradford Bulls in which time she established herself in the national squad as well as being part of the Bulls' double-winning side of last year.

The centre, who was part of the England 2017 Rugby League World Cup squad that reached the semi-finals in Australia, follows international team-mate Claire Garner in arriving at Cougar Park from Bradford.

An international at both senior and students level for England, Courtman has also played for Bradford Thunderbirds as well as a stint playing rugby union for West Park Leeds.

She will have to wait for her chance to play for Cougars as she recovers from a serious knee injury that is set to keep her out until the middle of next year.

Courtman learnt her trade within the Keighley schools system under the stewardship of Women’s head coach Dean Muir and football manager Jeremy Crowther.

Muir is hoping that a hometown figure will inspire both the fans to support the team and also young women to get involved in rugby league.

“The signing of Jess is another statement of intent from where we want to be as a team and as a club,” beamed Muir.

“I’ve known Jess since she was younger and coached her in the schools through my previous role with the club's foundation and know that she brings both talent on the pitch and a voice in the dressing room.

“It is important that the Cougars as a club are back within the Keighley community and making ourselves known once more as a family club and a community club. The signing of someone as well known as Jess, who is born and bred in the town, will be the first step in achieving this.

“As the likes of Buster (James Feather) and Lyny (Josh Lynam) have shown in the men’s first team, the fans of the Cougars love players who are their own, players who are Keighley through and through and Jess is the first of what I hope is a number of the women’s team to be on a similar pedestal among the fans and in the wider community as a whole.

“Despite her injury that will keep Jess out of action for a while yet, her presence and experience will help lift our younger players to a different level and her infectious personality will only rub off on everyone around her.

“When I returned to the club, I set my stall out early that my aim was for our women’s team to be competing for trophies and at the top of the Super League fighting it out with the likes of Wigan, Leeds and Bradford.

“I inherited a fantastic group of women who, despite being raw and inexperienced, are extremely talented and adding players of the calibre of Claire and now Jess means I have the standard of player to achieve my goals as well as bringing the players around them to an international standard.”