Agar's agenda: What could be Leeds Rhinos coach's mind ahead of trip to Super League leaders Catalans Dragons

Leeds Rhinos have the luxury of a whole week to prepare for Friday’s rematch with Catalans Dragons.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 5:51 pm

After playing four times in 13 days, without being able to do any specific training for matches, Rhinos will hope to be fresher going into the rearranged game in Perpignan.

Here’s what could be on coach Richard Agar’s mind this week.

1: Preparation. Following the win at Salford 16 days ago, Leeds have been in a cycle of play, recover, play again. They will have an opportunity to train as a team this week, for the first time since their coronavirus outbreak last month. That should stand them in good stead for what is, at the moment, the toughest challenge in Betfred Super League.

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Liam Sutcliffe goes over for a converted try which gave Leeds a 10-point half-time lead against Catalans last week. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Liam Sutcliffe goes over for a converted try which gave Leeds a 10-point half-time lead against Catalans last week. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

2: Confidence. Catalans deservedly won 26-18 when the sides met at Emerald Headingley last Friday, but nothing in that game suggested Leeds aren’t capable of turning the tables. Agar and his players can take confidence from the first half, when Rhinos hit back from 8-0 down to lead 18-8 and could have been further in front if they had taken all their chances. They may have some more key players back this week and will be more rested, so it is not an impossible task.

3: Realism. Players and coaches know from past Easter weekends it is often the game immediately after a fixture pile-up when the strain really takes its toll. Rhinos got through the past couple of weeks on adrenaline, but there will be some weary bodies on Friday and the travel to Perpignan - there and back in a day - will not help.

4: Past history. The current series is the 16th time in the summer era Rhinos have played the same opposition in back-to-back fixtures. In the previous 15, they won both games nine times, the spoils were shared on four occasions and Rhinos lost both twice, against St Helens in 2002 and Huddersfield Giants 14 years later.

5: Corey Johnson. The 20-year-old hooker’s return to Leeds, a year after retiring, was a surprise bonus for Agar who rates him highly. He is spending this season on loan at York, but if he picks up from where he left off, Rhinos have unexpectedly acquired a very good player with a potentially big future.

Corey Johnson's return to Rhinos is an unexpected bonus. Picture by Steve Riding.

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