Leeds Rhinos’ right-side defence will need to be on top of their game tomorrow, interim-coach Richard Agar has warned.
Visitors Wigan Warriors’ biggest attacking threat comes down their left flank – who will be attacking what has been a problem area for Rhinos.
Winger Tom Briscoe, centre Harry Newman and captain Kallum Watkins all impressed in last week’s 10-0 win at Wakefield Trinity, but Agar expects them to be put under pressure tomorrow.
Agar said: “A lot of teams have been having a fair old crack at our right-side defence, but I thought we were better on that the other night and Kallum Watkins, playing in the second-row, put in a mammoth effort with the number of tackles he made and some very strong carries. With Sean O’Loughlin and George Williams in their team we are expecting a fair bit of traffic coming that way this week.
“I think George, as an individual, is one of the most potent attacking players in the competition.
“He is right up there so we know we will have to be very good in that area and very strong against a tough pack of forwards.”
Wigan are eighth in the table, two places and two points ahead of Rhinos and a Leeds win would drag them into the relegation dogfight.
Assessing tomorrow’s visitors, Agar insisted: “I think they are strong and they look very, very tough to break down. While results-wise you might think they have been patchy, I think performance-wise they haven’t been too far away.”
But Agar insisted he has seen positive signs from Rhinos, who remain only two points above bottom club London Broncos.
“The players care and they are certainly determined to take steps in the right direction and put things right,” he said.
“The last two weeks they have definitely shown their commitment to that and their commitment to each other was very visible during the game last week.”
Though successive wins have made Rhinos a happier camp, Agar stressed: “We’ve got to find some consistency.
“I thought for long periods against London we defended our tryline all right and last week to keep any team to nil - certainly one that’s got as much attacking potency as Wakefield – is a fair effort.
“I thought the effort areas were immense and we really turned up for each other.
“That was the most pleasing element, but I don’t think we can continue to go through games defending as much good ball.
“We need to turn that tide a bit more and make sure we get more equal spoils in attack.”
He added: “Having said that, on review I thought we did create a number of chances too despite limited possession in good ball.
“On the flip side, Wakefield had to go around us to try and come up with their tries and we tested their skill and forced them into some last-ditch passes.
“For us, that’s a pleasing sign that they didn’t come go through us.”
Rhinos beat London 24-22, but have scored a total of only 18 points in their two other league games under Agar.
“You have to earn the right to attack and to have the football down their end, but we will get that,” he said.
“Last week was a difficult night for handling, we did come up with six yardage errors, but at the same time you’d expect some errors in those conditions.”
Rhinos’ England academy forward Muizz Mustapha has joined Newcastle Thunder on a month-long loan.