RHYS Lovegrove is invested in the long-term Keighley Cougars project, and insists he is not going anywhere, despite their heartbreak in the League 1 play-offs.

A golden-point drop goal from Workington cost them a home Grand Final, before they lost the final eliminator to Doncaster the following week after their opponents scored a converted try with the last play of the game.

But Lovegrove, who in 2021 has earmarked himself as one of the game’s most talented young head coaches, said: “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.

“I’m far more positive about the potential of rugby league than many people, and the blank canvas at Keighley attracted me to the job.

“The club is a slice of positivity and hope in the town and even though the hours I put in are beyond sane, I love it here.

“I haven’t really thought about my next steps, but I’m still a young coach with a lot to learn.

“My goal at the moment is simply to keep helping Keighley develop.”

But the Australian can only do that with a strong team behind him, and there are several key players, like Jake Webster, Mo Agoro and Taylor Prell, who are yet to officially sign for next season.

Lovegrove said: “The key thing for us now is getting players tied down to new contracts.

“We know we need new players, as ultimately, we didn’t win promotion, and we know there are elements of our game we need to strengthen.

“But the culture here is so important for us to continue developing and if we release lots of players or lose the wrong ones, we’ll almost have to start again.

“We need a big chunk of players to be retained, and doing that and keeping the club stable are our priorities, first and foremost.”

Star half-back Jack Miller is a player Lovegrove does not need to worry about, with the 26-year-old signing a new two-year deal with Cougars this summer.

Miller was the top points-scorer in the league this season, and his head coach said: “Jack’s huge for us, and he’s a really good indicator for the culture and environment we’ve created here.

“He’s benefited from it himself, as one of a few players who’ve seen it not work out at other clubs in the past.

“We try and make the lads develop as players and as people, and Jack is one who has come a long way from 2019, when he signed, to now.

“The stats and accolades he’s racked up this season show that and he continues to engage with us in terms of his growth.

“He’s in his prime at 26 and playing great footy, but he’s still got it in him to take it to the next stage.

“That goes for both himself but also the other young players coming through in his position.

“It will be a real area of growth for him. We know he’s a great player, but the ability for our key men, like him, to improve others is an integral part of what we do.”