Agar's agenda - what Leeds Rhinos' coach has to deal with ahead of clash with Wigan Warriors

Leeds Rhinos will have to ‘pick their chins off the floor’ this week as they prepare for another huge challenge.

Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 9:57 am
Rhys Evans, centrte, made his Rhinos debut against St Helens as injuries began to bite.

Following their 48-0 home drubbing by St Helens two days ago, Rhinos face new Betfred Super League leaders Wigan Warriors, at St Helens, on Saturday. It will take a massive improvement for Rhinos to get anything out of that game, so what could be on Leeds coach Richard Agar’s agenda this week?

1: Rhinos can’t afford to lose any more players and, ideally, need some back.

They took on Saints without four men from the team which had pipped Huddersfield Giants a week earlier and with another four - including long-termers Stevie Ward and Dom Crosby - still on the casualty list.

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Knocks to Alex Mellor, who was one of the better players against Saints and Alex Sutcliffe are an added concern. Agar knew his squad would be tested following the coronavirus break, but maybe not so early.

2: In 164 minutes since Super League resumed, Rhinos have played well for about 15 - the final 12 of the 80 against Huddersfield and then extra-time.

Other than that, they have been poor and well below the standard they set in February and the first weekend of March, though the opposition has been much better. In a shortened season, that is a concern, but at least it is clear what needs to improve: Rhinos have to commit fewer errors, be much more disciplined - especially early on - and make better decisions on final plays.

3: Agar didn’t get too carried away with Leeds’ five-match winning run, so won’t be too despondent now. Leeds were very poor, but they faced a team who have been revived by lockdown and were back to their devastating best. Other teams might have been more competitive, but it’s doubtful anyone would have beaten Saints in that mood.

4: Wigan also have their injury concerns. Thomas Leuluai (ankle) and Bevan French (back) both picked up knocks against Wakefield.

5: Fun fact - in each of the two Super League seasons Rhinos have been nilled, 1998 and 2017, they have finished second and gone on to reach the Grand Final.