Return to the Championship after many years absence has been quite a baptism of fire. Clearly the Featherstone game was disappointing (everything that could go wrong that day, both on and off the field, did go wrong !), but what a turn around Rhys and the boys did later that same week in the game against Widnes.

Despite not winning, I thought we saw huge potential from our team – it could easily have been a win for Cougars, and against a Widnes team at their home, in the same week our guys played Featherstone – I thought Cougars did incredibly well. All credit to Rhys and his coaching staff, and of course the heroes out there on the pitch.

The off-season has seen some changes at Cougar Park. Lisa left as General Manager to pursue a career in TV presenting, which was a passion for her – we were lucky to have a replacement in Lynne Conlin, who is an absolute star. Lynne previously worked for Charlton Athletic in the commercial department, so comes to Cougars with know-how which is of great benefit to the club. Lynne is completely Cougarised, and we are lucky to have her.

Josh left his role as media manager to pursue a fulltime career beyond sport – we thank Josh for the years of dedication he has given to the club. We have welcomed a new addition to the Cougar off-field team in the form of Steven Watkinson, who has been appointed as Media and Administrative Manager.

Steven has an incredible track record in business, media and digital marketing. I’m sure all Cougar fans who follow our social media will have noticed Steven’s hard work since starting at the beginning of the month. The quality of his work is exceptional, and he has added his entrepreneurial skills to benefit the club and brand Cougar.

We have also welcomed Jake Webster to the commercial side of the club. Jake has hit the ground running in his roles as Commercial Executive. The impact he has made in bringing increased sponsorship in, as well as bringing in new sponsors has been phenomenal. He was a star on the pitch, now he is spreading his stardust around the off-field role too.

In Lynne, Steven and Jake, we have a formidable team to run the business side of the club – this puts us in great stead for the future.

We’ve been attracting some great media with the new season in Championship. Kaue and I are proud to be on a BBC podcast in the coming weeks. As it is LGBTQ+ awareness month, something obviously close to our hearts, the BBC reached out and asked for us to take part in a 45 minute podcast hosted by the BBC. This is great publicity for the club, reaching to a national demographic.

As Steven develops the Cougars brand on social media, then this kind of publicity will help push the brand Cougar beyond the confines of rugby league. This will be important as we prepare for what IMG will be proposing – a national profile will put us in good stead to have a louder voice.

It is with great sadness that we saw Jack Miller request release from his contract this week to join the Newcastle Thunder. 

Jack has been inspiring both on and off the pitch, and I am proud to call him a friend. Always with a smile and a cheeky chappy attitude,  no one can ever feel miserable with Jack around.

It is entirely understandable that Jack wants the consistency to be in the starting 17 for matches , and for this reason he saw that opportunity being more likely at Newcastle than here at Keighley at present. Jack’s loyalty to the club, and his huge part in securing promotion is something we will always be grateful for –  despite moving on, he will always remain a friend to us, and to the club.

We are privileged to have a sqaud that is strong in depth and talent, with the excellent recruitment carried out by Rhys and Hendo in the run up to our Championship return. That means no player is guaranteed a spot, but every week they have to challenge for their place – this is a hugely competitive squad, and we have total faith in Rhys that his forensic analysis of each game and training session, means he makes the right choices. 

Sport can be a cruel business, at its heart is competition, and in this Championship we have no room for error –  it is fierce. I hope supporters will give Rhys and his staff the benefit of the doubt in his team selection – Rhys is a true professional, has a supreme rugby intelligence that I have never seen the sort of in any other coach.

As I spoke to Jack on Sunday evening, after learning of his move to Newcastle, I gave him the message that he will always be loved by this club, and that if the opportunity opened up he would always have a place here.