KEIGHLEY Cougars head coach Rhys Lovegrove admits this Saturday's Challenge Cup tie at London Broncos is not a particularly high priority.

But if that sounds like a bit of a defeatist attitude, the Australian has a perfectly good explanation.

He said: "The Challenge Cup is more part of my plan to get ready for the league starting in May, and to get people fit and have some game time.

"I didn't want the league to be the first time the boys played any footy.

"Of course we want to see a performance in there and I'd expect my teams to go and represent Keighley and the town and play a good style of rugby, whichever squad number they are.

"But while there's certain standards I'd expect, I won't be risking players for such a long away trip, like Scott Murrell (calf) or Josh Lynam (quad).

"If it was a home tie it might be slightly different, but I'd be lying if I said such a long trip down there, after a full week of work, on a 4G pitch, was the foremost of my thoughts and priorities."

Lovegrove admitted London's style doesn't really help Keighley either, saying: "It's a difficult draw for us because no-one in our league plays like the Broncos.

"That wouldn't have been as much of a factor if we'd played another big, direct northern team.

"Rugby league players are ego-driven and we want to compete, but we're not going to learn much from the game.

"The pitch will probably be a factor, as will the fact that they're a full-time team who are pushing for promotion to Super League.

"But the boys are relishing the idea of going to and competing hard against a club like that, which is good, because it shows we've recruited ambitious players to play here."