Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar pays tribute to fans as Headingley gets set to welcome five-figure crowd for Super League visit of Salford Red Devils

Leeds Rhinos could have four players back from injury, isolation or suspension on Friday evening - but coach Richard Agar is more excited about the prospect of Emerald Headingley’s first big crowd for 16 months.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:18 pm

Agar has named his strongest squad of the campaign so far for the visit of Salford Red Devils in Betfred Super League round 15.

But he insisted: “Regardless of players we have coming back, I think the big thing coming back this week is the fans.”

Tonight’s game is the first at Headingley without a reduced capacity - or any social distancing - since Rhinos’ 66-12 win over Toronto Wolfpack on March 5 last year.

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A packed South Stand at Emerald Headngley. Picture by Steve Riding..
A packed South Stand at Emerald Headngley. Picture by Steve Riding..

Face coverings will be optional and fans will not be asked to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test or vaccination.

“It has been great having 4,000 in, but hopefully we can get a 10,000-plus crowd here and create a wonderful atmosphere,” Agar said.

“It will make for a wonderful, emotional occasion again.”

The second half of last season and early games this year were played behind closed doors, before a limited number of spectators were allowed to attend from late-May.

The coach said both he and his players have missed the unique atmosphere a big crowd at Headingley creates.

Agar said: “I have missed it, but I am very focused on game day on the team.

“I think more than anything, the players have missed it.

“I have said this many times before, our crowd has always played a wonderful part for us, in good times and bad times.

“There is no better place to play on a Friday night, in my opinion, in world rugby league than Headingley.”

“There’s some real anticipation among our guys and excitement that they are going to get an opportunity.”

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