LEEDS RHINOS are licking their wounds after a humiliating 24-22 exit from the Coral Challenge Cup at Betfred Championship neighbours Bradford Bulls. Here are five talking points.
1: There is a time and a place for panic and despondency – and from a Rhinos point of view, Saturday afternoon at Odsal was it. There can be no excuses for the most embarrassing defeat Leeds have suffered in the summer era. Bradford wanted it more, which is bad enough and the bottom line is Rhinos aren’t good enough. It may have been a shock, but was anybody who has watched Rhinos over the past couple of seasons really surprised? Results like that are not acceptable so something has to change.
2: But what? Since Brian McDermott was sacked last July there has been another change of coach, a rejigged backroom group, new physios and conditioning staff, but no improvement. There have been claims the players weren’t playing for Dave Furner, but his departure certainly didn’t provoke any sort of positive response. They have to take responsibility, pull their socks up and start proving their worth.
3: Interim coach Richard Agar does not want the job on a long-term basis so who can Leeds get in? Whoever it is will have the same tools to work with, but it remains a huge club with a massive fan base and the potential to achieve something good. Rhinos need a tough character who will take a ruthless approach and can turn a group of individuals, some of them very talented, into a team. Ex-Wigan boss Shaun Wane would fit those criteria.
4: Rhinos’ under-19s scored 40 unanswered points in the second half to beat Bulls 52-6 in Saturday’s curtain-raiser. Some have already been given a shot and they wouldn’t be out-enthused, but throwing teenage rookies into a tough situation isn’t ideal. Bottom line – senior players need to be better.
5: However they do it, Leeds need to pick up some league wins from somewhere. Relegation will beckon if they lose to London Broncos at Magic Weekend.