Keighley Cougars held a highly anticipated question and answer session on Friday, June 19th, 2023, with a panel consisting of Kaue Garcia, Ryan O’Neill, Jake Webster, Steve Watkinson, Jy-mel Coleman, and James Feather. The session aimed to address various rumours, recent departures, and the club’s future plans.
Ryan O’Neill, in his opening address, focused on debunking five main rumours that had been circulating on social media. First, he clarified the issue regarding players’ pay and wages, emphasising that the only misunderstanding was related to the club’s policy of retaining a portion of the win bonus for an end-of-season pot, which had not been communicated effectively to new contracted players. Ryan assured everyone that the club had never missed any salary payments to players.
Expressing his frustration with the false rumours, Ryan requested the individual spreading them to cease their actions, as they caused damage to the club. He stressed the club’s commitment to transparency and urged fans to rely on accurate information.
The departure of Rhys Lovegrove, the head coach, was another significant topic discussed during the session. Ryan confirmed that it was a tough decision but necessary due to the club’s ambition to succeed. He expressed his respect for Rhys and acknowledged his talent, but stated that the club’s current position and performance were not satisfactory. Ryan expressed confidence in Jy-mel Coleman, the new coach, and his team to bring about the necessary improvements.
Jack Miller’s request for release was also addressed. Ryan acknowledged Jack’s contributions and the substantial salary increase he had been given. Despite asking him to reconsider, Ryan respected Jack’s decision to seek a new opportunity elsewhere, stating that when someone shows interest in leaving, it is best to let them go.
Luke Gale, a surprising addition to the Cougars’ squad, expressed his desire to seize an opportunity with Wakefield, leading to his agent requesting his release. Ryan praised Luke as a genuine, humble, and approachable person and expressed disappointment at the unfair abuse he had received on social media from some Rugby League fans. Ryan reaffirmed the club’s support for Luke’s decision, acknowledging that such opportunities should not be missed.
Addressing rumours surrounding Ryan and Kaue’s involvement with London Broncos, Ryan clarified that it was entirely false. He emphasised the club’s debt-free status and their commitment to Keighley Cougars. If fans believed otherwise, Ryan suggested the possibility of establishing a trust to transform the club into a community-focused organisation.
During the session, Kaue Garcia addressed the departure of Frank Levy, acknowledging his contributions and expressing gratitude for his commitment over the years. However, differences of opinion and disagreements regarding a situation led to a parting of ways. Kaue assured Frank that he would always be welcome at the club.
Questions from the audience covered various topics. Ryan refuted the claim that players were instructed not to socialise with fans after a recent game, stating that they encouraged such interactions. Plans were discussed to implement measures to ensure players remain at the ground until at least 6 pm on home game days, promoting engagement with fans.
Regarding the reaction of players to Rhys Lovegrove’s departure, it was noted that the initial response was subdued as the players had developed fondness for Rhys. However, they quickly understood the need to focus on the club as a whole and to step up under any coach. Rhys addressed the players before leaving, expressing his appreciation for their support.
Jy-mel Coleman, the new coach, outlined his vision to improve performances and his.