Agar's agenda - what could be Leeds Rhinos coach's mind this week ahead of Wakefield Trinity double-header
Games are coming thick and fast for Leeds Rhinos who face Wakefield Trinity at St Helens on Thursday, just three days after a derby win over Castleford Tigers.
The sides are set for a rematch on Sunday on Trinity’s home turf and Leeds meet Tigers again five days later.
Every fixture is important for Rhinos who are still in the race for a top-four finish in the Betfred Super League table, so what might be on coach Richard Agar’s mind this week?
1: Rotation. Agar has named an unchanged 21-man squad for the first part of Rhinos’ Trinity double-header, but is unlikely to field the same 17 who battled past Tigers on Monday. Agar has been careful with some players’ game time, but squad rotation will be the key to getting through this fixture congestion and he is keen to limit the number of players backing up. Rhinos are fortunate in having two teams’ worth of fit players available, so some young players will probably get an opportunity over the next week or so.
2: Better options. Rhinos suffered several of what Agar described as “brain explosions” against Castleford, particularly the decision to go for glory on the final play of the first half, which backfired spectacularly when Tigers’ Greg Eden pounced on a loose ball from an unnecessary kick to score a breakaway try. Leeds will need to be smarter agaisnt Trinity.
3: Expecting a tough game. Trinity suffered 10 successive losses between rugby league’s return in August and last week, but are coming off back-to-back wins. They were gritty against Huddersfield Giants and flamboyant when overwhelming Hull KR and the next two games are a much tricker proposition than they seemed a few weeks ago.
4: Planning ahead. Nobody knows yet what next season will look like, but Rhinos have begun putting plans in place and former Great Britain star Sean Long is a good addition to the coaching staff as Agar’s assistant. His ability as a coach is highly regarded and he will bring something new to Rhinos’ attack, particularly the half-backs.
5: Bodene Thompson. The New Zealand-born forward has been a fine signing on a short-term deal. It might depend on the status of his previous club Toronto Wolfpack, but if Leeds can make the deal permanent Thompson will have earned it.
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