Leeds Rhinos: Agar's agenda - here's what's likely to be on the coach's mind this week
After a month on the sidelines, games are coming thick and fast for Leeds Rhinos.
Leeds’ 38-12 victory at Salford Red Devils was their second successive Betfred Super League win, but came at a cost with injuries and disciplinary issues reducing coach Richard Agar’s selection options.
Rhinos back up against Leigh Centurions on Thursday, just four days after the match at Salford, so what could be on Agar’s mind this week?
1: Raising a team. That has been a regular theme this season and events at AJ Bell Stadium have added to the problem. Konrad Hurrell is ruled out of Thursday’s game because of concussion and Richie Myler dislocated a finger against Salford. Luke Gale, Bodene Thompson and Alex Mellor picked up bans, but the good news is Covid sufferers Zane Tetevano and Liam Sutcliffe are back in contention after completing their return to play protocol and Cameron Smith has a chance of returning from a hamstring injury.
2: Fatigue. Yes, Rhinos had a long break, but the current fixture pileup is still hugely challenging. Eight players were ill with coronavirus between the games at Castleford Tigers and Salford and others couldn’t train, so their fitness will have been affected. Also, players from last Friday’s international will have to back up again, for their third game in seven days. The fact Agar was able to manage their game time at Salford was a bonus, though Kruise Leeming played the full-80, but it is still a big ask.
3: Banana skin. Leigh have lost all their competitive fixtures this season and are heading for a rapid return to the Betfred Championship, but over the past decade or so Rhinos have developed a habit of losing to teams who go on to get relegated. Leigh, who have had three extra days’ rest, are competitive in most of their matches and a win is coming, so Agar won’t be taking two points this week for granted, especially with Gale unavailable.
4: Discipline. Rhinos handled being down to 12 and 11 men against Salford very well, certainly better than their opponents, but Thompson was the second Leeds man sent off this year and with the squad low on numbers anyway, they can’t afford to lose players unnecessarily. It’s an area they need to tidy up.
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.