'No dramas' for Leeds Rhinos boss over Super League extension

Coach Richard Agar says Leeds Rhinos will do “whatever it takes” to ensure Super League gets through the coronavirus crisis intact.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 6:00 am
Mikolaj Oledzki takes the ball up against London at Anfield last year. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

On Tuesday Super League confirmed its Magic Weekend, scheduled for May 23 and 24 at St James’ Park in Newcastle, has been “postponed”.

However, executive chairman Robert Elstone insisted the event - which sees an entire round of matches played at one venue over two days - could still take place later in the year, possibly at a different venue.

Though scrapping the Magic Weekend altogether - along with the six additional ‘loop fixtures’, when teams meet for a third time - is also an option, Elstone’s comment is a clear indication of clubs’ desire to complete this season’s full 29-round league campaign, which Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington reckons might mean playing up until Christmas.

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Richard Agar, whose first win as Leeds coach was at the 2019 Magic Weekend. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

With two games in hand before the sport was suspended last month, Rhinos have 24 league matches - plus at least one Coral Challenge Cup tie - to fit in.

Agar said he has “no dramas” with completing the full season and believes making adjustments to next year’s schedule is the sensible option, if the shutdown drags on beyond June.

“I think as a club we are prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure we have got a viable competition that can sustain all clubs,” Agar pledged.

“[If the competition continues into December] I am not sure we could start again in January, but I am sure we could start at the end of February or March.

“If we need to get the games in this year, I have no dramas with that at all.”

The Leeds boss pointed out: “There’s a World Cup at the end of next year which we [Super League] are going to have a lot of players participating in, so - if they play 29 games [in 2020] - it probably makes sense to try and make some adjustments to the length of the season next year.

“But it is pure speculation at this moment in time, we are still working in the unknown.

“If we get back in June we will get this season in, no problem - it all depends.”

Rhinos were due to play Hull in the final game of Magic’s opening day, but Agar admitted the decision to postpone was inevitable.

“It’s not a surprise they’ve called it off and I guess whether we get to play it this year or not depends when we get back on the field,” he said.

“At the moment it doesn’t look like that will be any time soon.”

The Championship’s Summer Bash, due to be staged at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road on May 30 and 31, has also been called off.

A statement from the Rugby Football League said: “The concept of a round of fixtures being played at a single venue at some stage in 2020 - whether in the Betfred Championship and/or League One, or the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup - remains one of the possibilities in the wide variety of options in the contingency planning being considered by the RFL and the clubs.”

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