Leeds Rhinos set challenge ahead of pressure cooker clash with Hull
LEEDS RHINOS’ players have been challenged to prove they can handle pressure against visitors Hull tomorrow.
Rhinos interim coach Richard Agar felt they failed to do that in a big game last week when they were stunned 32-16 at home by relegation rivals Hull KR.
With St Helens resting at least nine first-choice men for their trip to bottom club London Broncos, who are just two points behind Leeds, tomorrow’s result could be crucial and Agar wants his pivots to show more control.
“There were a number of errors from our seven and our nine,” he said of last week’s failure.
“There’s a responsibility on those guys not to put us under so much pressure.
“They handle the ball more than anybody else in the team and we need more from them and more in terms of our kicking game.”
But the team boss insisted: “I do think we have shown we can handle that over recent weeks.
“It was disappointing so many areas we have shown so much pride in fell apart for us last week.
“Four tries at home should be enough to get you the win. Take the first and last five minutes of the Saints game out of it and over the last six weeks we’ve been averaging two tries a game conceded.
“Last week was an opportunity lost, but we are still in a situation where every game is absolutely winnable - and where every game if we don’t turn up at our best something like last week can happen.
“There was a real lesson for us. There was a little bit of talk about can Leeds launch a late bid for the play-offs?
“We have been saying all along, one game at a time, just get ready for the next game.
“Whether getting ahead of ourselves was something we were guilty of, I don’t know, but it’s something we can’t afford to let happen again.”
Third-placed Hull face Warrington Wolves in a Challenge Cup semi-final next Saturday, but their boss Lee Radford has named a strong squad.
“You get some comments that you don’t know what you are going to get from them, but they have won seven out of their last 10,” Agar pointed out.
“We are in a competition where, pretty much outside the top-three, teams are having a couple of good weeks, then a couple of bad weeks.
“Hull have a quality spine, they are big and powerful and they’ve got some individuals in there who are capable of having a big say in which way their performance goes.
“We are preparing for a big challenge.”
Agar doesn’t expect Hull to take tomorrow lightly ahead of next week’s big game.
He said: “There’s been a lot of talk coming out of their camp that they haven’t won here for a while so that’s obviously a focus for them.
“They have got a semi-final next weekend and I am sure there will be spots up for grabs.
“We’ve got to first of all worry about ourselves and putting right what we got wrong last week and making sure we get the right level of commitment to each other and what we are doing defensively, because we are going to need it this weekend.”