Agar's agenda - here's what might be on Leeds Rhinos coach's mind this week ahead of Super League clash with Hull
After five successive defeats, any win is a good one, but the result was the main positive Leeds Rhinos could take from their derby defeat of Wakefield Trinity.
It took an extra-time penalty goal to see off injury-hit Trinity, who have not won since last October and Rhinos will need a big improvement to get anything out of Sunday’s visit of Hull.
With fans returning to Emerald Headingley for the first time in more than 14 months, that is a huge game for Rhinos, so what might be on coach Richards Agar’s agenda this week?
1: Stand-off - again. Kyle Eastmond’s retirement, just two games into a two-year contract, is a shock and comes less than a week after Rob Lui confirmed he will leave the club at the end of his season, which wasn’t a surprise. Rhinos were already looking for a stand-off and Eastmond’s departure will add some urgency to that, but also free up valuable space on the salary cap.
2: Attacking improvements. Rhinos spent most of the first half of last week’s game deep in Trinity territory, but managed only one try. Their attack improved slightly after the break, but overall they rarely looked a threat close to Wakefield’s line. In seven games this season, Rhinos have scored 18 or more points only once and managed just 96 in total, at an average of less than 14. A lot of that is due to the players who are or have been missing, but they need to be better.
3: Game management. In each of their last two matches Rhinos have gone ahead through a late drop goal, only to concede an equaliser in similar fashion almost immediately. A team who take the lead with three minutes remaining should be smart enough to see the game out, but - as Agar admitted after the Wakefield match - Rhinos are having too many brain explosions and crazy moments.
4: Selection decisions. So far this year it has been almost a case of whoever’s fit will play. But Richie Myler and Zane Tetevano are now available after injury and will be automatic inclusions in Sunday’s 17 and with Rob Lui, Harry Newman and Cameron Smith closing in on a comeback, Agar will have decisions to make, for example on his first-choice centres.
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