Agar's agenda - here's what could be on Leeds Rhinos coach's mind ahead of Friday's game at Hull KR
After their opening win over Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos have suffered three successive defeats, which makes Friday’s game at Hull KR a big one.
Here’s what could be on coach Richard Agar’s agenda this week.
1: The return of experienced players. Agar will name an initial 21-man squad tomorrow, but has said Rhinos could have “six or seven” of their injury victims back in contention this week.
That would make a big difference, after 12 members of the full-time squad were unavailable against Wigan Warriors last Thursday.
None of the rookies who have played in recent games has done anything to justify being dropped, but it’s important Rhinos get some experience back and Agar doesn’t have to play people out of position.
2: Kyle Eastmond. The former rugby union man made his long-awaited debut against Wigan and did a solid job.
Defensively he was very strong and after a quiet first half on attack, he got more involved following the break, with some decent kicks and a clever pass in the build-up to Rhinos’ only try.
It was his first game of any sort in more than a year and his return to league after a decade away so Agar will feel, with more time on the field, he is going to grow in influence.
3: Last tackle options. Not surprisingly, given Leeds’ lack of half-backs,last plays have been poor.
With a game under his belt, Eastmond will have to take more responsibility for that, but Rhinos need another specialist play-maker alongside him sooner rather than later.
4: Hull KR’s threat. Rovers got their first win of the season, by a point against Huddersfield Giants last Friday.
They had lost two of their previous three games in extra-time so while in theory this is one Leeds should be winning, in practice they are in for a battle.
Rovers play an unpredictable style which can be very effective when it works so Leeds will have to be on their mettle, particularly if some players are returning from a long layoff.
5: Mikolaj Oledzki. The big prop has made a strong start to the season and deserved his call into the England squad.
Now he’s in possible World Cup contention, he has extra motivation for a big year and with Zane Tetevano banned for another three matches, Rhinos need him and Matt Prior to get them on the front foot.
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