In the latest of a new series as a part of our match preview line-up, we will be looking at 5 players in the opposition line-up to look out for once they take to the field against the Cougars at the weekend.
We move on to the next edition of the ‘Ones To Watch’ series with Sunday’s opponents at Cougar Park, Coventry Bears.
If any off-season recruit made by the Bears ahead of the 2021 season caught the eye, that of veteran full-back Dave Scott was certainly the one.
The Scotland international raised eyebrows when he made the decision to depart Championship side Batley Bulldogs to join Coventry as both a player and assistant coach for the forthcoming campaign.
It was a real coup for the Midlands club to secure the signature of Scott, especially as a number of Championship clubs were also chasing his services following his departure from Mount Pleasant at the end of the 2020 campaign.
Only beginning to play Rugby League aged 13 after seeing a game on television, Scott quickly took to the sport and was scouted and signed by Hull Kingston Rovers.
From there, he would go on to play for Featherstone, Doncaster, and Batley, whilst also featuring in two Rugby League World Cup’s and a Four Nations on the international stage for the Bravehearts.
His valuable experience will only aid the Bears development as a club both on and off the field.
Ireland student international Peter Ryan is fast developing a reputation as one of the hottest prospects in the division.
Only beginning in the sport in his native Ireland in 2015, the prop quickly adapted to the sport and his impressive performances earned him a spot on the plane as a part of the Ireland team for the 2017 Students World Cup.
Ahead of the 2018 season, Ryan would re-locate to the midlands to study for a master’s degree and the Bears acted quickly to secure his services ahead of their Betfred League One campaign following a successful trial with the club.
Impressing immediately at the Butts Park Arena, the forward caught the eye of Ireland and Swinton Head Coach Stuart Littler who rewarded Peter for his performances at club level with a call-up to the senior Ireland side where he has to date earned 3 caps.
Now into his fourth season in Coventry, Ryan continues to impress and improve year on year and will provide a physical and intense opponent for the Cougars pack this Sunday afternoon.
A man who needs no introduction to the Keighley Cougars faithful is utility back Matt Welham.
Welham joined the Bears ahead of this season following his release from the Cougars, after spending the last two years at Cougar Park.
The youngest of the three Welham brothers, Matt earned rave reviews during his spell in Keighley for his under the radar performances across the three quarter-line which saw him score the first try of the club’s new era against Whitehaven on the opening day of the 2019 season.
His defensive qualities at both full-back and centre made him popular with supporters and many were sad to see him go when he was released from his contract at the end of the 2020 campaign.
When he arrived at the Butts Park Arena, Head Coach Richard Squires said of Matt: “Matt brings us some real threat in the outside backs.
“Having the chance to link up with his brother Liam was a huge attraction and with those two together they could cause a lot of damage against teams.
“Matty is very versatile and gives us a number of options. He’s very unpredictable to play against and could not be happier to add him to our squad.”
The exciting young full back is now into his second season at the Butts Park Arena after being one of Richard Squires first signings following his appointment.
Returning to England following a spell in Australia, the Bears beat off a number of rivals clubs to secure Hill’s signature ahead of the 2020 season.
A product of the Hull FC scholarship and academy system, Hill came to prominence in the student’s game with University of Hull and the English Universities side.
Whilst earning his education, his form saw him selected for the Universities side that headed to Australia in the autumn of 2017 to represent England in the Students World Cup.
During this time, he would also leave Hull FC and sign for West Hull in the NCL and would help the side reach the 2018 Premier Division Grand Final where they were defeated by the Thatto Heath Crusaders.
From there, he headed down under to sign with the Rockingham Sharks and after linking up with a number of his fellow expats impressed in his new environment before returning home and training with the Hull FC reserves.
After training with the Airlie Birds second side, he was signed by the Bears and despite Covid-19 has to date impressed and established himself as one of League One’s most dangerous full-backs.
Another name that needs no introduction to the Keighley Cougars supporters is that of Christopher Cullimore.
The determined hooker had two separate spells at Cougar Park, either side of a brief stint with the Halifax Panthers, before departing at the end of the 2019 campaign to sign with the Bears.
A Scotland international, Cullimore’s leadership skills will allow him to move Coventry around the park in general like fashion and if allowed to cause a problem by the Cougars, he will do just that.
Since arriving at the Butts Park Arena last year, the hooker has taken on a leadership role within the club that has both helped and allowed younger players to grow.
And now aged 27, Chris adds maturity in a key position to an otherwise young squad filled with exciting talent that will no doubt relish the opportunity to cause an upset or two this season if allowed to do so.
By Joshua Chapman