SENDING the Keighley Cougars faithful away with hope over the winter is number one priority for head coach Rhys Lovegrove as they bid farewell to a turbulent season this weekend.

After a season of hefty points deductions and managerial changes, Cougars bring the curtain down on their 2019 Betfred League One season when they host Newcastle Thunder on Sunday (3pm kick-off).

Following a two-week absence, Cougars closed their away campaign with a 48-12 defeat against Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium last weekend.

Lovegrove wants his squad to give the loyal Cougars fans something to shout about with victory over their high-flying visitors on Sunday.

But the Australian has put the existing squad on notice that a number of new faces will join the Cougars during pre-season, as he looks to step up the levels of performances for next year.

He said: "They are an amazing group of supporters. It's an amazing club.

"We are going to be successful at this club. We need a push to create a winning mentality here. I want to win games and win trophies. That's what I'm here for.

"I want to make sure every single position has competition.

"It's up to the players to step up to the bar and sort it out. They have pre-season to sort it out."

Lovegrove added, despite his side's poor loss in South Yorkshire, he has been impressed with some of his squad' members' individual performances over recent weeks, including Cougars' Serbian international Jason Muranka.

He said: "Muranka is outstanding and has raised the bar. Aaron Levy has been outstanding, 'Buster' Feather has been good all year.

"We will have three months of hard training during pre-season.

"We want players who will be competitive against these big clubs.

"A lot of players are coming into this squad. I want to create a very competitive environment.

"Newcastle are in the play-offs. we are playing one of the best teams.

"If we can perform well, we will have a good shot and come away with a decent performance.

"If we continue to replicate the errors we have been, players will be sitting in the sheds having the same conversations.

"I want a squad featuring big, strong middles next year.

"We will bring in wingers, there will be a lot of new faces But I have made sure I have kept a really good core of the lads that were already here."

The club's sponsors evening will take place on Thursday, September 12 with a 7.30pm start at Cougar Park.

Meanwhile, from next Sunday's home game against Thunder, Cougars will be launching a matchday escort service for supporters with limited mobility.

A club statement said: "Supporters with limited mobility can now arrange in advance to be part of this service which will escort them to, and from, their seat from the main entrance at Cougar Park on gamedays."

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