Luke Gale: Former Leeds Rhinos captain still has leadership role insists boss Richard Agar
Half-back Luke Gale remains one of Leeds Rhinos’ leaders despite being stripped of the captaincy, coach Richard Agar says. Gale is set to make his 250th Betfred Super League appearance in tonight’s crucial fixture at Hull, after being dropped from the team, last week.
The England star revealed he has apologised for missing a training session following a disagreement with Agar.
Forward Matt Prior, who skippered Leeds against Salford six days ago, has been confirmed as the club’s new captain.
But Agar stressed: “It’s just a case of business as usual, I know it won’t affect Luke’s leadership.
“As a scrum-half and a guy who touches the ball and is very vocal for us on the field, it’s important to acknowledge his role definitely will not change in that regard.
“It won’t change his influence for us and if anything, we want him to really rise to the challenge on leadership, given where we’ve been this week.”
Announcing Gale’s demotion, a Rhinos statement said it was as a result of “behaviours not aligned to team trademarks”.
Agar said: “Effectively what we mean is we have a set of standards and behaviours we feel as a club, no matter what the situation, we like to fall back on and adhere to.
“He is the first to stick his hand up and say he wavered from that.
“What I will say in his defence is, if anybody thinks you go through a season without disagreements in a rugby league squad, they are kidding.
“Luke is an extremely competitive person, which has made him the player he is.
“Just unfortunately at this time he didn’t manage that competitive spirit and emotion in the right way.
“The term we’ve used is he breached some protocols and for the rest of the squad we had to uphold some of the standards we set.”
Agar is confident the matter is now closed. He added: “I don’t think there’s anything lingering.
“In clubs you can have arguments and disagreements, but you can very quickly talk about it and move on as well.
“It won’t be the first or the last I’ve had as a head-coach and I dare say it’s not the first or last Luke will have.
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“While there’s elements of it [that are] disappointing, it has been an easy and quick one for us to move on from.”
Prior was Rhinos’ player of the season in 2020 and is ever-present this year.
Matty is such a laid back, easy-going guy and he gives you seven or eight out of 10 every week in his actions,” Agar noted.
“Collectively, the team will take responsibility and I don’t see it being too much of a factor or a change for us.”
Agar has named a strong squad for tonight, with forwards Zane Tetevano, Mikolaj Oledzki and Tom Holroyd also set to return, but admitted Hull are formidable opposition.
“They are big and powerful and defensively they have really aimed up this year and been a difficult team to break down,” he warned.
“They are prepared to work hard for each other, they take some handling and their kicking game is important.”
Rhinos were beaten 18-12 when the teams met at Emerald Headingley two months ago and the Leeds boss stressed: “I think we learned some good lessons the last time we played them.
“We had a lot of territory and didn’t really execute.
“We got forward well and dominated a lot of field position, but weren’t able to find the right play at the right time - and defensively, three individual errors down our right side cost us heavily in that game.
“I think that time was a good indication of where we are going to need to get to, but also what we have got to improve in.”
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