Keighley have released a statement in defence of head coach Rhys Lovegrove following a string of poor results.

The Cougars parted company with Craig Lingard earlier this season, while Phil Larder left barely a month after being appointed to lead the club’s coaching department.

Those issues followed a major crisis off the field during the close-season that threatened the club’s League 1 status.

The recent turmoil and loss of form has prompted head of rugby Gary Moorby to urge the club’s supporters to stick behind Lovegrove.

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He said: “I have noticed that there have been question marks raised about Rhys and his coaching ability due to him being a “rookie coach” and I do not share any doubts and I am confident he is already developing into a very smart and competent young coach.

“Yes, this may be his first opportunity as a Head Coach but he has done some coaching at other clubs and he is a natural in the role.

“As a player he represented the Australian schoolboys, there is no bigger accolade in junior Aussie Rugby League, he played for Hull Kingston Rovers for several years in Super League after joining them from NRL side St George, and he also represented London Broncos and Bradford.

“He has a wealth of experience playing at the highest level and he has been very well coached from a young age.

“Just ask the likes of James Feather or Jack Miller and they will tell you how highly they rate him as a coach.

“He is a “teaching coach” and he spends time teaching the players good technique, he expects his players to be smart and make correct decisions, ensuring they run good lines and know their role at all times, some of our guys will never have had such expectations put on them but they will develop into much better players for it.”