Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar left bemused by Alex Mellor’s one-match ban

THE ONE-GAME ban handed out to forward Alex Mellor has left Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar bemused.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 1st July 2021, 9:33 am

Mellor is one of three Rhinos players who will miss tomorrow’s visit of Leigh Centurions following disciplinary incidents in last Sunday’s win at Salford Red Devils.

He appealed against a one-match penalty notice for making physical contact with the referee, but the ban was upheld by the RFL’s disciplinary panel.

Captain and half-back Luke Gale will miss two games after being sin-binned for punching and Bodene Thompson received a one-match suspension for a similar offence.

Leeds Rhinos' Alex Mellor on the charge against Salford Red Devils on Sunday. The forward was handed a one-game ban for making physical contact with the referee. Picture: Steve Riding.

Two other Leeds players, hooker Brad Dwyer for dangerous contact and centre Tom Briscoe (contact with the match official) were charged, but not suspended.

The Salford player involved in the Gale incident, Ryan Lannon, avoided a ban for punching and Lee Mossop – who laid out Leeds’ Konrad Hurrell with a punch, keeping him out of tonight’s game – was suspended for two matches, along with Jack Wells (dangerous throw). Joe Burgess received a one-game ban for punching.

Reflecting on the bans, Agar said: “I can understand a couple of suspensions. Bodene threw a punch and Luke threw punches, so that’s always going to happen, but I am really, really disappointed Alex is going to miss a game and Tommy was charged.

“They are tough ones to handle.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“They have gone by the letter of the law, but if you want to apply common sense you might have a different outcome.”

Leeds could be without up to a dozen senior players tomorrow evening, as they seek a third successive win.

Richie Myler suffered a finger injury against Salford and to add to Rhinos’ problems, influential forward Zane Tetevano remains sidelined with Covid.

Rhinos are also waiting to hear if any of their players will be affected following a positive case in Salford’s squad.

Agar has yet to field a first-choice line-up this year, but reckons that day will come – and Rhinos are capable of making an impact in Betfred Super League when it does.

“I think our boys are really excited by what we can achieve,” he said.

“I know a lot of people will think our season is on a knife-edge and maybe have written us off as not good enough, but we definitely don’t think that internally.

“There’s no question marks internally that we can be a really good team this year, but we are having to navigate a lot of challenges and they are coming week on week.

“It is just one thing after another, but we are learning to cope and adapt.

“It is what it is, we have just got to keep working hard and hope we can keep picking wins off and get to the day when we’ve got 24 or 25 people to pick from and we can get Myler, Gale, Tetevano, Harry Newman, Cameron Smith all back in the side in one big go.

“I think we will be a fair side when we get to do that.”

Agar stressed: “The silver lining for a bit of short-term pain is the longer-term gain.

“Jack Broadbent is getting more experience and doing really well for us and Kruise Leeming is adapting to playing different positions.

“He has played great in the halves, we don’t see him as a half, but he has done that.

“Morgan Gannon is getting more game time and we saw Tom Holroyd come back against Salford after very little football since last year’s Cup semi-final and he had a magnificent performance.

“King Vuniyayawa’s getting better week on week so the guys we might not have expected to have quite as much football at this stage of the year are getting plenty of opportunities.

“It has been tricky at times, but it will stand us well moving forward.

“I still look at the squad and the emerging talent, the age of the squad and what we’ve got coming through in our pack and think we are building nicely.

“We will get through this period, but I think the bigger picture, longer-term, is a healthy one for the club.”

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