Agar's agenda - issues for Leeds Rhinos' coach to tackle ahead of St Helens showdown
Here’s what could be on Rhinos coach Richard Agar’s mind this week as he prepares for the big game.
1: Winning consistently. Rhinos haven’t put together back-to-back victories since October last year when the Challenge Cup semi-final conquering of Wigan Warriors was followed by a home win over Hull. In Super League, it is even longer, going back to meetings with Salford Red Devils and Huddersfield Giants last August and September. To get into the play-offs Leeds will need to string a run together. Having beaten Castleford Tigers last time out, they have an opportunity to do that, but Saints are the toughest-possible opponents.
2: Focusing on themselves. Saints had a tough and emotional game last weekend, when they beat Hull in a Challenge Cup semi-final. The prospect of Wembley can do strange things to teams and there might be a hangover, but Leeds can’t rely on Saints having an off-day. They need to prove the 11-try rout of Tigers was not a flash in the pan and if they can reproduce that form, it’s a winnable game.
3: Repaying the fans. Leeds’ only home game so far in front of a crowd was the loss to Hull a couple of weeks ago. That wasn’t an entirely poor performance, but was a bitterly disappointing result. Fans have waited a long time to see their team live and they deserve a better outcome on Friday night.
4: In-form middles. Half-back remains an issue, but Rhinos’ big men in the middle of the field, Mikolaj Oledzki, Matt Prior and - since his return from suspension - Zane Tetavano, have been outstanding. Tetevano was sent-off in the Cup defeat two months ago, but Leeds pack took the game to Saints’ forwards that afternoon and very nearly came up with an epic win, so Agar will want to see more of the same this time.
5: Team changes: Ash Handley, Bodene Thompson and Tom Holroyd could be available after injury and the latter two are regular selections when fit, but it would be tough to drop anyone after the performance against Tigers.
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.