YEP Jury: Leeds Rhinos under early-season fire as fans’ belief starts to fade away

According to our Leeds Rhinos Jury, last week’s performance against Hull was ‘lacklustre’, ‘error-ridden’ and ‘embarrassing’.

By YEP Sportsdesk
Monday, 14th March 2022, 4:45 pm

There isn’t a huge amount of optimism among the panel looking ahead to Friday’s game at Salford Red Devils and questions are being asked about how Rhinos can turn their season around.


Well, that was deflating. After a superb performance at Wakefield the previous week, I thought to myself after the game, finally Richard Agar has banged a few heads together and our season can start where we left off from Warrington.

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Leeds Rhinos fans feel Richard Agar’s team is failing to deliver on its pre-season promise.. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

My word, we looked shambolic against a weak Hull FC; our pack just looked like a below-average championship side.

Gary Hetherington surely must be thinking now, ‘is Richard up for the job?’. I’ve been defending him since he arrived back in 2019 but I don’t know how I can now.

The buck stops with him and his assistants as to why we’ve been playing poor. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

On to Salford, who had a brilliant start to the season and seem to be slumping a little bit after a hammering by Huddersfield and losing by 10 to Hull KR last Friday.

Leeds Rhinos' Tom Briscoe on the charge. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

They will be wanting to get back on track which, I think, probably means they’ll be more ‘up for it’ than us. Will we perform and get two points? To be honest, I don’t know with how up and down we are at the minute.


I have never been a fan of rugby league on a school night and the Friday-morning alarm clock always seems worse after a heavy loss coupled with a bad performance.

There was very little to celebrate in an error-ridden, lacklustre display from Leeds. Hull FC came with an effective game plan, kicking deep and often early, defending well and executing their chances. Jake Connor, in particular, had an excellent game. Being nilled at Headingley was a distinct possibility and the two late tries from Leeds was the only action that truly roused the South Stand.

Our jurors would like to see Jack Broadbent in the Leeds Rhinos strating line-up. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

My friends and son were all in agreement; the new directives on dangerous contact are becoming a bit of an embarrassment, with one yellow card for each side that both looked pretty innocuous.

Salford are next and the Rhinos have myriad problems to fix up; the attack stalled with wild passes, an interception and poor last-tackle options.

The defence, at times, looked pedestrian. I don’t envy Richard Agar who must be thinking ‘where do we go now?’. I like to keep my glass half full; things can only get better.


With the side taking one step forward in the first 40 minutes over at Wakefield Trinity, it feels like they have taken two back in the subsequent 120 minutes.

For the first time this season, they failed to dominate in the opening sets of the game which put them on the immediate back foot.

The balance of the side looks wrong.

For all the effort he has put into the club, Tom Briscoe isn’t a centre and it shows.

Jack Broadbent should be in that right-centre spot in the absence of Harry Newman.

The balance of the bench is off too; you cannot carry five back-rowers in a matchday squad and only three front-rowers. The lack of impact through the middle after the starters rotate isn’t good enough.

As I wrote about a few weeks back, the halves need to start clicking.

Both have been brought into the side to create tries and they just aren’t delivering.

The game against Salford is a ‘must win’ as, at this moment in time, Leeds aren’t good enough to be giving away that much of a headstart to their play-off rivals.


It is very disappointing to have started the season with four defeats from five and, honestly, I don’t know which way we go from here.

Given that midweek against Hull FC was the third defeat the Headingley crowd have witnessed so far this season, the belief I had a month ago is starting to fade away.

To be 31-0 down on our own turf is really poor.

It’s embarrassing.

We now travel to Salford before hosting St Helens two weeks later.

Fixtures aren’t getting any easier and, the way we are playing, it’ll be tough to get anything from these.

It feels like the start to the season could not have gone much worse for us but, surely, it can only get better from here.

Anyway, Salford have won only two of their first five games so I’ll put my rose-tinted glasses on and be hopeful we can get the win on Friday.

On the plus side, it was great to see our women’s side beat Huddersfield Giants 38-8 in their first game of the season at the John Smith’s Stadium over the weekend.


After Thursday’s game, all the optimism and excitement from pre-season had disappeared.

The players won’t need telling but it simply wasn’t good enough.

Credit to FC; they ran the ball harder, they were aggressive in defence and their kicking game was spot on. I don’t think there is a better player taking on the line than Jake Connor when he is in the form he is. He made Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer look like schoolboys.

To be sitting third bottom after five games is nothing short of embarrassing. It’s still early doors but, if the performances don’t improve, the fans will start to turn on the players.

Salford away on Friday night and, like the Wakefield game, it’s simply a must win.

I have never minded Richard Agar personally and I think he has brought some stability back to the club, but anything other than a win on Friday and I can’t see him being in charge for our next league game against Saints.

Games like Salford aren’t usually ‘massive’ but this one will certainly have a different feel.


Firstly, I’d like to ‘congratulate’ the organisational genius who scheduled the rugby and the former Holbeck RFC (Leeds United) to be at home on the same night, ensuring traffic chaos across the city for most of last Thursday evening.

Rhinos stuffed Hull FC just before the regular season commenced but Leeds’ slide since then could have put them firmly in contention for a place in the recent GB Winter Olympics team.

Knee-jerking fans claiming it was the worst performance since the Roman Invasion of Britain in AD43 need only look back to 2017 at a similar time of the season and 66-10 spineless capitulation at Castleford. I wonder how that season ended up ? I’m not going to Salford on Friday and, instead, I’m ticking something off my wider rugby league bucket list.

No stands, no floodlights and, yet, the most-expensive ‘ground’ in world rugby, as the London Skolars play the British Army in a Covid-delayed friendly on the Honourable Artillery Company Grounds in the City of London where square-foot real-estate prices are comparable to a litre of diesel.

For me, the full rugby league experience should sometimes extend beyond the fortunes of a single team.

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