Agar's agenda - here's what could be on Leeds Rhinos coach's mind this week
There are some weighty issues for Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar to consider as Betfred Super League round one draws ever nearer. His side kick off against Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley in 11 days’ time, so what might be on Agar’s agenda this week?
1: Ash Handley. The last thing Rhinos needed from the pre-season hit-out at Huddersfield Giants was an injury, but they got one - and to a key player. Last year’s Super League top try scorer will be a big loss, but it is one they can cover. Luke Briscoe is a straight replacement, with 34 Super League appearances to his name and rookies Jack Broadbent and Liam Tindall could also step in if necessary.
2: Half-back options. Leeds created opportunities against Giants, but only rarely found a cutting edge. If everything goes to plan, Liam Sutcliffe (centre) and Richie Myler (full-back) will both play elsewhere this year, but Sunday’s hit-out was a useful experience for them and they looked more at home as the game went on. Leeds, though, can be confident of offering more of a threat near the opposition’s line when Luke Gale and Kyle Eastmond team up in the pivots. Both are expected to be available for round one.
3: Rhinos’ rookies. Against Giants, Leeds fielded nine players aged 22 or younger, including two 17 years olds. Some of them aren’t ready for regular top-flight rugby yet, but centre/full-back Broadbent and second-row Sam Walters, both 20, will be in Agar’s thinking for round one, particularly if the injury situation doesn’t improve. Leeds aren’t lacking players in Walters’ position, though Bodene Thompson and James Donaldson may be edging towards becoming ‘middles’, but injuries are a problem at full-back or centre. On Sunday’s evidence, Agar shouldn’t have any qualms about slotting Broadbent into either of those roles.
4: Zane Tetevano. Leeds’ star signing did not play at Giants owing to a tight hamstring, but attended the game and took a keen interest in Rhinos’ warm-up. Apparently, the Kiwi prop has already been a big influence at training and that is highly encouraging.
5: It’s always nice to win, but...Rhinos flopped in round one last year, two weeks after a pre-season victory at Wigan. Sunday’s result means very little.
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