Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar 'bitterly disappointed' after Super League clash with Catalans Dragons is called off
The decision to call off Leeds Rhinos’ game at Catalans Dragons this weekend is disappointing but unavoidable, coach Richard Agar says.
The match, due to be played on Saturday evening, was postponed yesterday after Rhinos reported more coronavirus cases.
The outbreak had already put one fixture on hold, with last Friday’s scheduled visit of St Helens being cancelled following two positive tests among Rhinos’ players and backroom staff.
Four more tested positive after that and the latest round of PCR checks, on Monday, revealed another two cases, bringing the total to eight.
Rhinos also have six players or staff in self-isolation after being identified as close contacts of those affected.
The club say they are in talks with their opponents, the RFL and Super League over rearranging both games for later this summer.
Betfred Challenge Cup final weekend, from July 16-18, is one possibility for the game in France, but with 12 matches already scheduled from July 9 to September 17, finding a date for the clash with Saints will prove a major headache.
Rhinos have not played since their 60-6 win at Castleford Tigers on May 28.
Their next scheduled fixture is away to Salford Red Devils on Friday, June 25, which is the same night as England’s mid-season game against Combined Nations All Stars.
The Super League table this year will be determined by win percentage, which allows for matches not being played because of the pandemic.
But having successive fixtures called off after the big win at Tigers has broken the momentum Rhinos seemed to be building after a poor start to the campaign.
“It is bitterly disappointing we can’t play this weekend,” Agar said.
“We are not allowed to fly without a full round of PCR tests completed, which can take 24 hours for us to get results and we are not allowed to do them until Saturday morning.
“It is impossible for us to make the trip.”
The current outbreak is Rhinos’ second, after a series of positive tests in pre-season.
Their Kirkstall training ground was closed last week and will remain shut for at least another five days until the next round of PCR testing on Saturday.
If there are no more positive cases then, Kirkstall will be reopened from next Monday, 12 days after Rhinos’ last training session.
The disruption has come at the worst possible time for Rhinos, but Agar insisted his team will get over their latest hurdle.
He pledged: “We have faced a number of unprecedented challenges over the last 18 months and this is just another one.
“We are making sure that the lads who have tested positive are looked after as much as possible and hopefully we will be back on the field as soon as possible.”
Huddersfield Giants, whose home fixture against Wigan Warriors last Friday was postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak, have been cleared to resume training after no further positive cases from their latest round of testing.
That means Friday’s home meeting with Salford Red Devils can go ahead.
In Women’s Super League, St Helens have also been cleared to resume training following the postponement of their scheduled fixture against Wigan Warriors last weekend.
They play York City Knights on Sunday.
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