Leeds Rhinos: Dave Furner looking to ‘improve and strengthen’ his squad

BOSS DAVE Furner is looking at ways to “improve or strengthen” Leeds Rhinos’ squad, but will not say if that includes bringing in new faces.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:00 am
Dave Furner.

Leeds have been linked with Cronulla Sharks prop Ava Seumanufagi who is understood to have been offered a three-year contract.

Furner gave nothing away when asked about possible recruitment in the wake of Friday’s 34-10 mauling at Hull

“It’s my job to analyse the play and analyse the players,” he responded. “I am not going to comment, I am just going to keep looking at how we can improve the squad or strengthen it.”

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Hull FC's Dean Hadley touches down against Leeds Rhinos.

After defeats in their opening two games Rhinos turned on the style to thrash Salford Red Devils and then produced a spirited performance in a close defeat at St Helens. Furner felt after that game Rhinos fans could be “proud” of their side, but things have gone spectacularly wrong since then with a 
35-18 home loss to Wakefield Trinity being followed by another poor effort at KCOM Stadium.

With Huddersfield Giants winning at Wigan Warriors, whose two-point deduction was overturned last week, Rhinos are second from bottom in the table after six matches.

The game at Hull was similar to the one against Trinity and asked if he felt it was now time to drop players, Furner – who insisted he “knew what I was in for” before taking the job last autumn – pointed out he had made changes from previous weeks.

He said: “I wanted to start big, I had Mikolaj Oledzki start with Nate [Peteru] who I thought had a very good game. Trent [Merrin] had a very good game. What we are trying to build for I thought was nice and strong and I’ll keep having a look at that.”

Carl Ablett.

Furner described the 22-minute spell when the score went from 10-0 to Leeds to 30-10 in Hull’s favour as a “car crash” and blasted his side’s discipline and defence.

The coach admitted that was as bad as any spell during his time in charge and added: “I will have a good look at that period.

“We started really well, really strong. There were some really good patches at the start, but that period was the game. Hull probably shouldn’t have scored their only try in the second half so I was [satisfied by Leeds’ second-half response].

“I felt if we were able to get a try it would snowball. I was happy with the second half, but it was just that 20 minutes before half-time. At times in the games when it’s on the line we need to nail that and we didn’t. I will keep having a look at that, whether it’s individually or an area in our team that needs to be rectified.”

Leeds suffered late disruption just before kick-off when Carl Ablett was pulled from the side. The veteran second-rower, who had ankle surgery in January, had been due to make his first appearance of the season, in the second-row, but was ruled out after the warm-up.

Harry Newman came in to start at centre with Liam Sutcliffe switching to second-row and 18th man Brad Dwyer taking a place on the bench.

“It wasn’t good,” Furner admitted of the forced reshuffle. “It would have been nice to have a bit more experience. That right edge is going to have teams testing them. That’s not going to go away until we get some stability in there week to week.

“That would be nice. We’ve changed that and it has probably exposed an area there we’ve just got to keep working on. It was hard, it would have been nice having Carl in the team, he’s got a lot of experience and probably would have helped us out there.”

However, Furner was pleased with his first look at teenage centre Newman in Leeds colours. “He scored a very good try,” Furner said. “He’s only a very young kid, but certainly that’s a positive.”

Rhinos under-19s’ game at Widnes Vikings, scheduled for Saturday, was postponed.