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 Friday evening’s opponents at the Butts Park Arena in Round 7 of the Betfred League One season, the Coventry Bears.
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.”
Matt’s older brother Liam adds an experienced head within the Bears ranks and is one of League One’s most respected players.
When he signed for the Bears, Alan Robinson said of Liam’s capture: “Liam’s experience speaks for itself and bringing a player of his calibre into our environment is really positive on a number of levels.
“He can not only add a positional threat on the field but also fits in perfectly with the group which allows us to reinforce everything we are doing.
“He is also a very strong character and someone who will drive standards which is exactly what we need to keep doing.”
The utility, who was a Keighley Cougars player for two days in 2019, started his professional career with Hull Kingston Rovers before moving onto Featherstone Rovers.
A member of the Rovers 2012 Championship winning team, he then moved onto Hunslet and then Doncaster, helping the Dons win a host of trophies and promotion during their successful period under the stewardship of Paul Cooke.
From there he had a brief spell at Cougar Park before work commitments forced him into the amateur game with Myton Warriors. He then returned to the professional game ahead of the Covid disrupted 2020 with the Coventry Bears.
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.
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.
The young prop is a new face to the Bears ranks having only joined last week on a season-long loan from Championship side Bradford Bulls.
Previously having already played against the Cougars this season in March’s Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy loss to the Bulls, Ho will know what to expect from Rhys Lovegrove and his side.
A highly rated prospect at his parent club, the size and aggression he will add to the Coventry pack will make them a more fearsome prospect in the middle of the park.
Hungry for action having been sent out to craft his trade by John Kear, Bradley could yet prove to be the shrewdest acquisition that Bears Head Coach Richard Squires has made to his side for the 2021 Betfred League One season.
By Joshua Chapman