Agar's agenda - what could be on Leeds Rhinos boss' mind ahead of big game at Huddersfield Giants
Leeds Rhinos have a long build up to Sunday’s game at Huddersfield Giants and coach Richard Agar will be anxious to use every moment.
Last Friday’s 26-6 defeat at Hull KR was Rhinos’ fourth straight loss and their poorest performance this year.
Giants have yet to win in Betfred Super League under new coach Ian Watson, which makes the showdown at John Smith’s Stadium a big one for both clubs.
Here’s what could be on Agar’s agenda this week.
1: Team selection. Five players returned from injury against Hull KR, so youngsters Sam Walters, Jarrod O’Connor and Morgan Gannon were left out and Jack Broadbent dropped to the bench. That was tough on Broadbent in particular, though Agar obviously needed Ash Handley in the side, won’t have wanted to drop Luke Briscoe after his performance against Wigan and probably saw Alex Sutcliffe as the better defensive option in the centres. Though the returnees created no improvement with the ball and the effort and defensive commitment wasn’t as good as in previous games, the logical tactic is to stick with them and trust they will get better with more game time.
2: Half-backs. Richie Myler’s two-match ban again leaves Rhinos desperately short of players with experience at six or seven. Rob Lui is still some way off and Luke Gale is not due back until the game against Wakefield on May 14, though Liam Sutcliffe - and possibly Callum McLelland - could come into contention. If nobody returns this week, a forward will probably have to partner Kyle Eastmond. Leeds are desperately short of last-tackle options and it’s not likely that will improve on Sunday.
3: King Vuniyauyawa. Last week was his first real opportunity to show what he can do and the Fijian ‘project’ had a strong game off the bench, which suggests Agar was right in believing he can be a success in Super League.
4: Discipline. Rhinos hadn’t conceded more than six penalties - or been beaten in the count - before last week, when they were hammered 11-5 and also gave away six set restarts. Agar will no doubt be looking at what they did differently.
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