Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar is nervous but backs promotion and relegation

INTERIM-BOSS RICHARD Richard Agar insists he is in favour of promotion and relegation – despite Leeds Rhinos’ year’s battle against the drop.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 30th August 2019, 7:00 am
Richard Agar.

Rhinos began round 27 – out of 29 – as one of five clubs still in danger of slipping into the Championship.

The team finishing bottom of Betfred Super League is likely to be relegated with a record points total, but Agar, whose side visit London Broncos for a huge four-pointer on Sunday, is not in favour of a closed shop.

“With relegation there is always a chance a good team will go down,” Agar said. “I think it is a bit of the essence of English sport, promotion and relegation. It is a long conversation and there are pros and cons. From a development point of view, it does stop that – we have done it ourselves.

Hull KR's Josh Mantellato is consoled by a fan after the club's relegation in 2016.

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“We have recruited late in the season because of the threat of relegation. Maybe it would have been nice for us to find out about some younger players who might be the core of our team for years to come.

“We don’t get that luxury now and that’s our fault.

“However, there’s some strong, traditional rugby league clubs sitting outside Super League who have got to have some ambition and something to aspire to. We don’t want those clubs to wither on the vine.”

Agar stressed: “I don’t see any problem with relegation. It is nervous and I’m not sure it does rugby league clubs any good as businesses and I’m not sure it does junior development any good but, if it gives hope to teams and it’s part of the fabric of British sport, we have to cop it.

“But it would be nice to put teams in a stronger position so, if it does happen, they can still strive and survive.”

A win this weekend would lift eighth-placed Rhinos four points clear of bottom club London and they already have a much better for and against.

Leeds are level on points with Wakefield Trinity and also two ahead of Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR.

Nothing will be mathematically decided, but Agar reckons victory at Ealing would effectively make Rhinos safe.

He said: “I think, given our points difference and the fact some of the teams around us have to play each other, we would have to have a severe meltdown and some spectacular results go against us with two games to go.

“We have got a bunch of people who are very committed to each other and are heading in the right direction.

“There’s been some bumps in the road, but we didn’t want to rely on other results. We wanted to rely on ourselves and we have put ourselves in a position where we can control where we finish this year.”

Rhinos will not make an announcement on their coaching situation for 2020 until the end of the current Super League campaign. Agar admitted he has been in his role longer than he expected when he was appointed in May, but insisted: “I just want to concentrate on this game.

“For me it has been all about avoiding relegation.

“We haven’t got that job done yet and we want to get it done before we get into the last couple of rounds. All that stuff [the coaching situation] will work itself out in the long run.

“But it is a great club and the job is a wonderful privilege, even in these tough circumstances.”