DELIGHTED BOSS Richard Agar says Leeds Rhinos are “excited” about what could happen over the final nine games of the Betfred Super League season.
Yesterday’s 31-12 defeat of Catalans Dragons lifted Rhinos from bottom to ninth, though they are among four teams locked on 14 points.
“We are not blase, we aren’t saying there’s plenty of games to go, we will be all right – far from it,” Agar insisted afterwards.
“But I actually think, as a team, we are quite excited by it and we know we have got plenty of improvement in us yet. They are all big games from here on in, but we are looking forward to them.”
Stand-off Robert Lui, signed in midweek from Salford Red Devils, made his debut and Agar believes he will only get better with more time in training and matches. He said: “His impact on our team this week was fairly plain to see. He came up with a play that created Konrad Hurrell’s try which put us out in front and I think as we can strike up more combinations with Robert and work, defensively on our right side a bit more we feel as a team we can only improve.”
Lui’s introduction led to Liam Sutcliffe being moved into the back-row and Agar added: “I thought he had his best game for a fair while. He ran the ball really well and defended strongly. The crowd were great too. For the guys who are new to our team to experience that and come through and finish how we finished, I can’t underestimate how much of a lift that gives our players.”
Rhinos led 18-0 in as many minutes and finished strongly after Catalans cut the gap to six points midway through the second half.
“I am delighted with the win and the performance in the type of game it was,” Agar said.
“It got tight. We had a lovely start, but even at 18-0 I didn’t think there was much in the game in terms of the way both teams were playing.
“I certainly felt Catalans had absolutely turned up to play and we were probably facing a Catalans team whose performance was better than it has been for the last two or three weeks.
“When it got tight [in the second half] I was really pleased with the way our boys held together and came through the other side. From a confidence point of view, to be in a tight game and bring it home like we did was very pleasing. It is a team game and at the moment they all seem to be buying in.”
Rhinos were without prop Ava Seumanufagai who has flown to New Zealand on compassionate leave, but is expected back early this week. Agar is hopeful Australian-born Papua New Guinea Test second-rower Rhyse Martin, signed yesterday from Canterbury Bulldogs, will arrive in time to be available for Friday’s derby at Castleford Tigers.
He is waiting for paperwork to be completed, but Agar said: “I saw him play a fair bit last year, he has got plenty of attack and he’s very mobile.
“He’s a good goal kicker and I think he’ll be a tremendous signing for us.”
Centre Hurrell will be assessed after rolling an ankle late in yesterday’s game, but the injury is not thought to be serious.