MENTALITY is key to success this season according to Cougars boss Craig Lingard.

Keighley have faced three entirely different types of opposition at the start of the new season, including a hard-fought victory against amateur side Distington in the Coral Challenge Cup at the weekend.

Lingard knows his side have the skill to cope with the rigours of the season, but says they’ve spoken about the mental side of the game too.

He added: “We went up to Whitehaven as a bit of an unknown, we didn’t know how we were going to cope there and the guys did really well.

“Then we were playing against the top of the league, having to back up the good performance at Whitehaven, which we did.

“Then we came into the weekend probably as the favourites to win the game.

“So it was three different mental challenges and I think in all three games they’ve come through pretty well.”

Cougars fourth challenge will be a trip to the capital for their tie against London Skolars on Saturday.

This battle will be played on a 4G pitch, something which Lingard admits will need to be overcome having faced wet, windy and cold conditions on boggy pitches so far.

One of Cougars’ biggest mental challenges is overcoming the 12-point deduction they were handed before the start of the season following off-field issues.

Lingard’s men already made a two point dent in the deficit with their first win against Coventry.

But it will take another five victories before they break even and Lingard says it’s tough to outline their aspirations at the moment.

The Cougars coach said: “It’s a difficult one because it’s easy for us to say we’re going to go for the play-offs, but we don’t know how the league’s going to pan out.

“We can’t control the other results and we don’t know how many points other teams are going to get.

“I said it before the start of the season that I think for anybody to get into the play-offs you’re going to need 20 points which means you’ve got to win half of your league games.

“We’re playing 20 league games this year, but with our 12 points deduction it means we’ve got to win 16 out of 20 games to get to those 20 points.

“Those 20 points might go higher, they might go lower so we can’t control that. The only thing we can control is what we do on the field.

“What we’ll do is we’ll try and knock these 12 points off as quickly as we can and then we’ll see where we are and see how many games left we’ve got to accumulate as many points as possible.”