Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves: Tough schedule is chance to climb Super League table says Richard Agar

Leeds Rhinos are treating their latest fixture pileup as an opportunity to boost their play-offs chances, according to coach Richard Agar.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 31st July 2021, 11:45 am

Rhinos play host to Warrington Wolves tomorrow just three days after a hard-fought 22-12 away win over Hull.

They complete a spell of three matches in nine days when Castleford Tigers visit Emerald Headingley on Friday.

It is a tough schedule, less than a month after Leeds played four times in 13 days, but Agar reckons Rhinos’ squad are in a good place and can use it to climb the Betfred Super League ladder.

Rhinos coach Richard Agar at the game against Hull. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“While it is not ideal and we’d all prefer a different schedule, we are viewing it as an opportunity to continue with some momentum and put some pressure on some teams above us,” he insisted.

Rhinos remain seventh in the table, but the win at Hull increased their winning record to 50 per cent.

Only four teams have a better points total than Agar’s side, but Leeds have played more matches than most of their rivals.

Agar warned: “Points percentage is a different way of looking at the table and that’s why it’s important for us to keep trying to chalk off our performances and wins as we go along and the table will take care of itself

“You have to look at yourselves and be ready to adapt to situations that get thrown at you and change your team at short notice and almost play games without real practice, which is what we are doing.”

The top six will go through to the play-offs - providing they reach the qualification mark of 18 matches - and a Leeds win tomorrow would be a huge stride in that direction.

“We still feel we have got some catching up to do, but there’s plenty of time to do that,” Agar said.

“We have been affected [by injuries and Covid], we lost some close games and we have had some poor performances, but I don’t think there’s ever been a point when we’ve thought we are up against it.

“Our performances are very much down to us, we are not looking at the fixture list or the opposition too much.

“We are just worrying about getting our habits right.

“I still think there’s enough time and enough fixtures for us to finish where we need to this year, to make a dent in the play-offs.

“It is very much down to us.

“A lot of the teams above us have got to play each other and there’s some congestion in their fixture list too, so for us, stability and momentum are key words.”

Rhinos trailed at half-time against Hull for the first time since their home meeting with the same team two months ago.

Agar said: “Thursday’s second half performance was a really good one for us because we’ve had some good first half performances in the last couple of weeks and not finished them off.

“In a tight game and a tough second half we came through the last 20 minutes really well.

“I think that will give us a tremendous confidence lift.”

Rhinos have lost Alex Mellor (knee) and Callum McLelland (concussion) from the side on duty at Hull.

But Bodene Thompson (suspension), Liam Sutcliffe (concussion), Tom Holroyd (ankle) and Morgan Gannon (isolating) are all in contention and Luke Briscoe and Jarrod O’Connor could feature after not being selected against Hull.

Agar admitted: “We had a tough game on Thursday.

“It had a decent intensity about it and we got through it all right, but to have the ability to utilise two or three pairs of fresh legs will come in really handy.”

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