Agar's Agenda - here are the issues facing Leeds Rhinos' coach this week
It is a short turnaround for Leeds Rhinos to another huge game, at home to Wigan Warriors on Thursday.
Rhinos showed tremendous character to push St Helens all the way in the Betfred Challenge Cup last weekend, but that was their second successive defeat and they will need to overcome the odds to end the losing run against Wigan.
Here are the issues facing Rhinos coach Richard Agar this week.
1: With two half-backs in the side, or perhaps even one, Rhinos might have beaten Saints, but all six players with experience there were unavailable.
Six weeks after he signed, Kyle Eastmond still hasn’t played, but last week would have been a tough ask for him, away to his former club in a game most pundits would tip Leeds to lose, even at full-strength and rather than him getting bashed, waiting another week was understandable.
The plunge will have to be taken sooner or later though and if it happens on Thursday, Eastmond’s debut will give Leeds a big lift.
2: Backing up from such a massive effort, with 12 men for 35 minutes, will be difficult, especially against a good team like Wigan.
But, as Agar said after the game, Rhinos have set a standard for effort and commitment.
They just need to add some finesse and strike power to that, which the missing players will do when they return and they look like becoming a good team.
3: There aren’t many coaches more steeped in the game than Agar and that showed with the gameplan which almost pulled off the unlikeliest of wins against Saints.
He likes to play ‘the Leeds way’, but Rhinos stuck to their available strengths and attacked down the middle, a tactic which led to all three of their tries.
4: Brad Dwyer is becoming a real asset.
He has worked hard on his game over the past couple of seasons, under Agar and his ability to come off the bench, raise the tempo and turn a match, as he did at Saints, is invaluable.
He turns 28 this month and can still improve.
5: Morgan Gannon’s unexpected debut might prove to be a significant day. Rhinos are excited by what the 17-year-old could achieve and a taste of first team action, in such a big game, will stand him in good stead.
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