Leeds Rhinos playing catch up in Super League play-offs race: Coach Richard Agar calls for professional performance against Leigh Centurions

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Leeds Rhinos are playing catch-up in the race for places in the Betfred Super League play-offs.

Rhinos will travel to bottom club Leigh Centurions tonight (Friday) on the back of successive defeats, which left them seventh in the table at the start of round 19.

Boss Richard Agar revealed some targets were set in the camp a couple of weeks ago and admitted: “After the Castleford game, we got a cross against that one which in our minds and calculations leaves us with one to catch up on from here on in.”

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Agar stressed: “That means there is less margin for error, but at the same time, we think it is really do-able.”

Richard Agar. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Richard Agar. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Richard Agar. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Rhinos have seven games remaining and, plus one to rearrange and Agar added: “A lot rests on how many of the games that have been called off are going to get played, but we know where we are at and we think we know how many wins we’ve got to get and where roughly that will leave us.

“We will keep those targets in-house, but I think there’s going to be a lot of twists and turns from now and the schedule and Covid will probably have its say on what the table’s going to look like.”

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Luke Gale is available tonight after suspension, but King Vuniyayawa (concussion) drops out and Liam Sutcliffe, who is facing knee surgery, has become the third player ruled out for the rest of the year.

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He joins Mikolaj Oledzki (foot) and Alex Mellor (knee) on the long-term casualty list and Matt Prior remains unavailable after testing positive for Covid.

“We are getting thin,” Agar admitted of Rhinos’ squad.

“But we will have what I think is a competitive team out of the park [tonight] and what it does is it means everybody has to assume some responsibility.

“We have got some big shoes to fill, but we’ve also got some vastly experienced players in our team as well.”

Gale is set to partner Rob Lui in the halves for the first time since the end of last season.

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Both players have been hit by injuries this year and Gale has served two RFL bans and a club suspension.

Agar reflected: “The spine has been a constant issue for us.

“Rarely have we put the same spine out two weeks running.

“Quite often we’ve had to play people out of position and have makeshift players in there.

“We would love to get some continuity from here on in, get those combinations, keep everyone on the park and have a stable lineup.

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“It will be good to get Luke and Rob back in tandem, they have worked really well as a pair since they’ve both come to the club and the combination with Richie Myler at full-back has generally been a pretty positive one for us.

“It has been a long time coming, it is round 19 before we’ve managed to get our numbers six and seven on the park together, but that has been symptomatic of our season.”

Leigh are bottom of the table and without a win this year.

Rhinos beat them 48-18 at Emerald Headingley last month, but Agar pledged: “We need to bounce back from last week.

“We were off on both sides of the ball.

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“We have been really grateful for the seven-day turnaround this time and we’ve put the emphasis on tidying up some areas in our game.

“Looking at the challenge of Leigh, they had a really near miss against Hull KR last time and played with tons of spirit.

“They can cause you some problems with the ball and they have some quality players.

“We understand their threats. I thought we did a really professional job on them last time and we are looking for more of the same.”

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