CRAIG Lingard is confident that Benn Hardcastle will be fully focused on earning the Cougars a win when he returns to Newcastle Thunder on Sunday.

The half-back was Keighley's headline capture during the off-season, having enjoyed a hugely successful spell in the north-east where he became the club's record points scorer.

He has already made a strong impact for the Cougars and Lingard believes it will be business as usual for the player on familiar territory back at Kingston Park.

The Keighley head coach said: "I've spoken to Benn about it and he is not fazed by it. His first comment was 'I can't get away from the place!'.

"I think it will be good for Benn to go back but he is such a professional he won't let it affect him. There will be no sentimentality and he will be able to catch up with people after the game.

"He will be fully focused on getting Keighley two points."

Lingard believes the former Hull KR youth player gives crucial leadership in the halves alongside youngster Matty Beharrell.

"He was absolutely outstanding in the league opener against Workington," said the Cougars chief.

"He bossed the game and is certainly what we missed last year, just with that experience he has.

"He very rarely looks like he is busy but he is always talking and always moving.

"I think that is the sign of a good half-back, in that you almost don't notice the work that he is doing and everything is running smoothly. That is Benn down to a T."