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.
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.
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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