KEIGHLEY Cougars head coach Rhys Lovegrove insists newly-signed half-back Luke Gale still has plenty to learn, and believes Billy Gaylor is the perfect tutor.

That might sound like unusual thinking from Lovegrove, given former England international Gale once won Super League's Man of Steel award, while Gaylor has barely even played in the halves since before the Covid pandemic.

But Lovegrove, who saw Gaylor do a sterling job alongside stand-off Dane Chisholm in Sunday's Betfred Championship win over London Broncos with Gale absent, has the perfect explanation.

He said: "Billy is great for Luke to learn from, because he knows our way of playing.

"He's played here for years, so there are no other systems he knows.

"Billy's a good player for Luke to watch, and he's always done well for us at half-back.

"We took on Newcastle, who were promotion favourites, with him in there in 2019, and we almost beat them.

"He was doing a good job for us in there in 2020 before the pandemic hit, but he's largely played at 13 over the last two seasons.

"He did well for us at half-back in our friendly win over Newcastle in January though, and created the plays for Robbie Storey's tries that helped us win that game.

"Billy did a good job on Sunday on the right edge and created plenty of opportunities in the first half, we just didn't take them."

Gale watched Gaylor and his team-mates make an impressive comeback on Sunday, overturning a 16-4 deficit at the break to win 33-22.

Lovegrove was glad to have his injured half-back alongside him, explaining: "He was running the water and next to me talking footy.

"It was nice for me to get some time with him like that, as you lack that chance when you're a part-time outfit like we are.

"It can be hard for guys like Luke, who've played in a full-time environment for years, because they're used to discussing things in depth with coaches one-on-one for 15 minutes, whereas you can't just sit and do that here."

Gale's current cartilage issue is set to rule him out for another week or two, with Lloyd Roby a fortnight or so from full fitness too.

Ben Crooks and Ellis Robson face another few weeks on the sidelines with injury just yet.

One player who has remained injury-free so far is Lewis Young, the full-back extending his contract to the end of 2024 this week after carrying on his fine form from last year's League 1 title-winning season.

Lovegrove enthused: "Out of all the fellas that have come up with us from League 1, Lewis has transitioned the quickest.

"He trains hard too, even though he doesn't like the gym, and he deserves this new deal.

"He needs to keep pushing the envelope, because what he can achieve and how far he can go in his career is something he can control himself."

Lovegrove is looking forward to Cougars' Challenge Cup third round visit to League 1 Hunslet on Sunday.

The South Leeds side knocked them out of the cup last year, and only a last-gasp try saw Cougars win there in the league.

He said: "It's a tough fixture that keeps the pressure on my group.

"The Championship is difficult and I wouldn't like us to have had to take a step back this weekend, and this game won't feel like it.

"Hunslet have a style of play that makes them difficult to beat, especially at home, and they've recruited well in the off season too.

"It'll be really interesting to see how my group deals with that challenge on Sunday."