Leeds Rhinos' kids are a shining light says coach Richard Agar
The emergence of a posse of youngsters as genuine Betfred Super League players has been a shining light in Leeds Rhinos’ season, coach Richard Agar says.
Rhinos are on a three-game winning run and have taken the spoils from four of their last five.
The team which beat Leigh Centurions four days ago included three teenagers and a similar number who are 20 and all of them are in contention for tonight’s trip to Warrington Wolves.
Rhinos still have a lengthy injury list and Agar admitted: “The key to our season is undoubtedly getting our key players on the field and getting some stability and momentum; when we are going to do that, I don’t know.”
But he insisted: “Nonetheless, the competition over the full season is a test of your squad and our young guys are developing nicely. The game time and exposure will stand them in good stead.”
Tonight’s hosts, who are third in the table, will be a step up in class, but Agar reckons Rhinos are heading in the right direction.
“We understand why we had a tricky start to the year, given the combination of circumstances,” he reflected.
“It has taken us a while to find a bit of flow, certainly with the ball, but I think in those games - Hull KR apart - we’ve competed really hard and had some tight games.
“Staying strong and battling through that period was important.
“We still feel we’ve got some catching up to do and we have got some tough fixtures coming up, but you can see across the competition if you take three or four of the better players out of most teams it affects their performance.
“We have regularly had 10, 11, 12 players out and generally seven or eight of those have been starting players in key positions.
“We have had a huge challenge on our hands and I don’t think you can underestimate that, but the belief in the squad is still pretty strong.”
Tonight is Rhinos’ third game in nine days - and a fourth in 11 for their England and Combinated Nations All Stars players. Of how much preparation they have been able to do, Agar said: “None.
“We played on Thursday and came in for recovery and review on Friday morning and then gave them the rest of the time off. We had a team run [on Sunday] when the first thing we did was an injury check.
“We had a little bit of preview for them, but we kept that minimal and we trained for 10-15 minutes, just running through a few sets.
“There’s not a lot more we can do, it’s more about best recovery and trying to get as much energy into them as we can.”
Warrington are Super League’s form team, having won their last six games in the competition, including a 40-14 success at Wigan Warriors last Wednesday.
Agar added: “We are on the back of a couple of good performances and we seem to have plenty of energy about us, although that is a big challenge- for both teams.
“Warrington have had their players playing rep’ football as well, but they are a fair side, as their league position tells you.
“They’ve been in decent form and it is a tough challenge, going there.”
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