Richard Agar: Former Leeds Rhinos coach explains why he stepped down

Former Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar has given a searingly honest explanation of why he stepped down from the role.

By Peter Smith
Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:10 pm

Agar quit this morning (Monday) , after almost three years in charge, with Rhinos third from bottom in Betfred Super League and having lost five of their six games this season.

The 50-year-old, who will remain at the club in a capacity yet to be decided, took the unusual step of facing a press conference less than an hour after the news was announced.

He admitted: “It hurts, I am upset and deflated, but I have taken a decision which is for the betterment of the club.”

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Richard Agar at this year's Super League launch. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com.

Agar said: “I, plain and simply, feel I’ve not had a big enough impact on the team.

“As head coach, looking at form and performances, I feel I needed to have a stronger impact on where we are and what we’re turning out.

“I think, perhaps, I have taken the team as far as I can and they may well need a fresh voice at this moment in time.

“I feel, in the best interests of the team and the club, a new voice and some fresh ideas might help them get out of their poor performances.”

Ryan Brierley on the attack for Salford whose win over Leeds last week proved the final score for Richard Agar. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

He reflected: “We were one [win] from six [games] last year, but I still felt I was seeing plenty of things in there to give me encouragement.

“Despite where we were injury-wise, I was really confident I was seeing plenty of good signs in what was a difficult situation, but I have obviously been pretty disappointed in some of the prformances we’ve had in the first six rounds this year.”

Agar’s coaching staff - assistants Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Sean Long, alongside performance director Richard Hunwicks - will remain in place.

Jones-Buchanan is now interim head coach and the club are beginning the search for a permanent replacement for Agar.

Agar, pictured with then-captain Luke Gale, left and man of the match Richie Myler, masterminded Rhinos' 2020 Challenge Cup triumph. Picture by Michael Steele/Getty Images.

The former boss took charge in May, 2019, after David Furner was sacked.

Ironically, his exit has come in similar circumstances, days after a defeat at Salford Red Devils and ahead of a Challenge Cup sixth-round tie.

Agar admitted pin-pointing why he has not got the required performances from the team is “the most difficult part of it”.

He said: “I think they are a really good bunch of guys.

“I still think that squad is way better than what we are seeing.

“I watch them training every week and, from what I am seeing then, we are going all right.

“There’s no lack of intensity, what they are delivering in training is great, it has just not translated into performances on the field.

“Despite what I am seeing on the training field, I don’t feel I am having a strong enough impact on what’s happening on game day and it is professional sport so that’s what it’s all about - winning and losing.”

Agar described Rhinos as “the best club I have ever worked at” and insisted coaching Leeds has been “an honour and a privilege and one I have absolutely relished”.

Of his future he added: “I have had some very loose conversations with Gary [Hetherington, Rhinos’ chief executive], but that’s as far as it goes.

“At this moment in time, I need some space from it and the players need some space as well, to get on with their jobs.

“If those conversations pick up down the track, with Gary, we’ll see what it looks like but, at the moment, there’s not too much meat on the bones.”

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