IT’S A big one – but not do or die. That’s Leeds Rhinos interim-coach Richard Agar’s assessment of tonight’s relegation four-pointer at home to Hull KR.
Successive wins have lifted Leeds from bottom to ninth and, if they can complete a hat-trick – their first in Betfred Super League for two years – they would be four points clear of the danger zone with seven games remaining.
Despite that, Agar insisted: “It’s the same approach, one game at a time.”
He stressed: “If we win we’ll still need some wins after that.
“We’ve said all along there’s going to be teams around the bottom playing each other so there will be points shared around.
“We have just got to take care of our own ends.”
Following wins in four of their last six Super League matches, confidence in Rhinos’ camp is beginning to recover from the disastrous opening two-thirds of the campaign.
Agar added: “We are excited about the rest of the season. We feel we are building and our best football’s still to play.
“Last week, against Castleford, defensively we were pretty good throughout. We came up with a couple of last-ditch efforts and try-savers which might have been a bit too close for comfort and we know there’s improvements in our game – a couple of things on attack.
“We had some good field position and maybe just didn’t deliver what we had hoped to deliver during the week.
“It’s about getting a bit more clinical, finding the right plays at the right time and seeing opportunities together.
“We are trying to get everybody on the same page, recognising what’s in front of them and how we can exploit those situations a bit better.
“If we can quickly get up to speed with that we feel we will have more points in us.”
An improving injury situation has helped Rhinos’ cause.
Long-term casualties Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward and Dom Crosby remain on the sidelines and Brad Singleton is suspended, but Agar confirmed everybody else is available.
He said: “We’ve had 30 players training, we’ve brought Rob [Lui] and Rhyse [Martin] in recently and Ava [Seumanufagai] is back in the mix.
“We feel there’s a lot of industry and desire and spirit within our squad to cover a lot of bases at the moment.
“Reducing the 19 to 17 is going to give me a headache this week.”
Hull KR began the round second from bottom in the table, above London Broncos on for and against and two points behind Rhinos.
But Agar warned: “We think we are playing a dangerous team.”
He pointed out: “In the last four weeks they’ve knocked off two top-four teams in Warrington and Hull so we know they have certainly got performances and big efforts in them.
“The inclusion of Matty Parcell has given them speed and line-breaking ability around the ruck and the return of Adam Quinlan has brought another dimension to their attack.
“Ben Crooks, Craig Hall – they are all players who are very good at taking opportunities.
“We know they are a team that’s capable of posting points and, on occasions over the past four weeks, they’ve shown they are capable of defending really well against some of the best teams the comp’ has to offer.”