Agar's Agenda - here's what could be on Leeds Rhinos' coach's mind ahead of big Super League derby with Wakefield Trinity
After a free weekend, because of the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Leeds Rhinos return to Betfred Super League action on Friday when Wakefield Trinity visit Emerald Headingley.
Rhinos are on a five-match losing run, while Trinity haven’t won any of their last eight games, going back to last October.
That makes it a big match for both teams, so here's what could be on Rhinos boss Richard Agar’s agenda this week.
1: Luke Gale. The skipper’s comeback, after four games out with a fractured thumb, will give Rhinos a lift. He is an on-field leader and organiser and will take some pressure off Kyle Eastmond, if the recent returnee to rugby league partners him in the halves. But Agar will be stressing Gale can’t magically transform Rhinos’ fortunes on his own. He also needs an improvement from the players around him.
2: Stand-off this week. Liam Sutcliffe, at number six in place of the injured Kyle Eastmond, was Rhinos’ best player in the defeat by Huddersfield last time out. Eastmond is expected to be available for Friday, but transitioning back to rugby league has been tough for him in a struggling team and it is a pressure game. Sutcliffe and Gale were the halves in March’s win over Wakefield, so Agar has a decision to make this week.
3: Must win. Other than the loss at Hull KR, Rhinos have been competitive in all their games, but it is getting to the stage where that is not enough and they have to start winning. Losing to fellow strugglers Wakefield would pile on the pressure, particularly with fans due to return for the next home match.
4: Stand-off next year: With Rob Lui confirming he will leave Leeds at the end of this season, a vacancy is opening on Rhinos’ overseas quota. Eastmond and Callum McLelland are both options for the number six shirt in 2022, but Agar will now also be on the lookout at home and in the NRL.
5: Returning players. Zane Tetevano and Richie Myler will both complete a suspension on Friday. If Rhinos can get through intact, their squad for the following weekend’s visit of Hull will look much stronger than it has in recent weeks.
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