Leeds Rhinos: What could be on boss Richard Agar's agenda ahead of Super League semi-final at St Helens

Leeds Rhinos are preparing for their biggest game since the 2020 Challenge Cup final.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 2:38 pm

Last week’s hard-fought 8-0 win at Wigan Warriors earned Rhinos a place in the Betfred Super League semi-finals and - unexpectedly, after Hull KR beat Warrington Wolves - a trip to defending champions St Helens.

Leeds’ season will come down to 80 minutes on Friday night, so what could be on coach Richard Agar’s agenda this week?

1: Team selection. The two players who returned last week, Zane Tetevano and Mikolaj Oledzki, made a positive impact. Alex Mellor and King Vuniyayawa were also included in Rhinos’ initial squad, but Agar was obviously reluctant to throw four players into such a big game after a spell on the sidelines. The temptation this week will be to stick with a winning team, fitness permitting, but Agar has options if he needs them.

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Rhinos boss Richard Agar, left and assistant-coach Sean Long celebrate the win at Wigan. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

2: Unexpected challenge. Leeds probably expected to be travelling to Catalans Dragons this week, but Saints away is a harder task. Leeds have pushed Catalans close twice this year, but were crushed 40-6 at TW Stadium earlier this month. Catalans, on a two-game losing run and having had a week off, might not be fully focussed after winning the league leaders’ shield, but Saints have more experience of this sort of situation and will be ready to go.

3: Luke Gale. Another welcome selection headache could be looming, with Leeds’ number seven now running for the first time since suffering knee damage against Leigh Centurions on August 13. There’s an outside chance Gale could be available on Friday, allowing Kruise Leeming to start at hooker and Brad Dwyer on the bench. But - again - Agar would have to decide whether to gamble in a must-win encounter.

4: Priorities. With both teams struggling to create chances, last week’s game wasn’t one for the neutral, but criticism of Rhinos’ performance was unfair. Obviously, they need to be better on attack, but their half-back issues are well-known. They defended strongly, took their opportunity when it came and got the result, which is all that really matters at this stage. To nil even a struggling Wigan team twice in a month is a good achievement.

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Leeds Rhinos endured a tough night the last time they visited St Helens, less than three weeks ago.