INTERIM-BOSS Richard Agar is a good choice to become Leeds Rhinos’ new coach, forward Ava Seumanufagai reckons.
Rhinos have confirmed a press conference for tomorrow morning at Emerald Headingley to make a “significant announcement” about their new head coach.
Agar has been in charge on a caretaker basis for four months, steering Leeds to seven victories from his 14 Betfred Super League games as boss.
Seumanufagai made his debut in previous coach Dave Furner’s final game in charge, a defeat at Salford Red Devils in May.
Agar was appointed on an interim basis three days later and masterminded Rhinos’ successful battle against relegation.
They achieved safety with two games to go and are set to finish eighth in the Super League table.
Agar, 49, was a stand-off for Featherstone Rovers, Dewsbury Rams, Widnes Vikings and Rochdale Hornets before beginning his coaching career at York City Knights.
He was in charge at Hull FC and Wakefield Trinity and worked alongside former Leeds chief Tony Smith at Warrington Wolves before spending last year in Australia.
He moved back to England to join Leeds as head of player and coach development in pre-season and returned to coaching as Furner’s assistant when James Lowes left the club early in the current campaign.
Initially reluctant to resume a full-time coaching career, he held talks last week with Rhinos’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield and chief executive Gary Hetherington and has been impressed by the level of support from the club – and fans – since his temporary appointment.
Seumanufagai reckons Rhinos are a “totally different team” to when he arrived four months ago. “Rich has done a great job for us and I am sure myself and all the other boys will back him,” Seumanufagai said.
“I would say he is popular with the players, but he is able to have tough conversations with people and that’s what you need. He brings that which is great. We are heading in the right direction and we’ll just keep building for next year. I think we will have a great team next year.”
Seumanufagai was Leeds’ man of the match in last Friday’s 20-12 home defeat by Salford Red Devils and made no excuses for the result.
“They ended up playing better than us,” Seumanufagai admitted.
“They capitalised when it mattered and we didn’t, so hats off to them. They played really well.”
Leeds were backing up from a tough game on an artificial surface at London Broncos just five days earlier.
Salford had an eight-day turnaround, but Seumanufagai insisted Rhinos couldn’t blame the fixture schedule.
“That’s part of the game,” he said. “It comes with the territory.
“You have got to be able to back up short turnarounds.”
One big positive for Rhinos was their defensive effort, particularly in the second half when they survived seven consecutive sets on their own line.
Seumanufagai noted: “We had to look at each other and draw some strength from that – everyone was dying.
“That’s what we did, just looked at each other and worked for each other. Our defence has improved tremendously, it has really come a long way.
“That’s a good sign for us coming into next year. We have got something to work on in the off-season.”
The curtain will come down on Rhinos’ season in four days’ time when they play host to Warrington Wolves.
Seumanufagai said the motivation this week is to finish on a high and send veteran forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan – who will retire after the game – out on a winning note.