Agar pays tribute to Rhinos youngster

Richard Agar has paid tribute to Cameron Smith’s development after the forward signed a new three-year deal with the club.
The Rhinos moved quickly to tie down the 21-year-old after a strong start to the season earned him accolades across the board, along with several more of Leeds’ rapidly-rising number of homegrown youngsters.
Smith has quickly become one of the first players on Agar’s teamsheet after the opening rounds of the season, and the Leeds head coach believes his rise has come because of a commitment to improving his fitness in the off-season.
“Cam Smith has come into this year, off the back of a pre-season and knowing what we want and expect from him.
“Cam is a great example, a young kid that was one of the best juniors of his age-group. The game was too easy for Cam as a junior; he was a big, strong kid, and a good ballplayer. But the game is so much different as a ballplayer at first grade to what it is at the junior ranks.
“For Cam, it was really important for him to learn to get the horse before the cart, not the other way round, and not just to be the ball player without the industry the game requires to play in the middle. We really focused on that with Cam in the off-season, to get him fitter and stronger so he can do that industry, but to make sure the industry comes first and the nice bits and silky skill that we know he can do comes after that.
“It’s getting the balance right, and that can sometimes be symptomatic of a young player trying to get in the team. They want to showcase their skill set, but we’ve moved him forward so his strong ball carries come first, and that his tackling is good.
“He gets it now; he’s got a mature head on young shoulders.”
Leeds’ production line has come in for criticism over recent years, with many expressing concerns that their conveyor belt wasn’t producing players at the same rate as it had previously.
But with the likes of Jack Walker, Ash Handley, Callum McLelland, Harry Newman, Mikolaj Oledzki and Smith starting to emerge among others, Leeds’ new generation is beginning to emerge.
“You’d love to think that a couple of years down the track, you’ve got five, six or seven mainstays in the team that are pathway players and are the one setting the standards of what has gone before them,” Agar said.
“We have to nurture them. In an ideal world you can dip them in and out at times but last year we weren’t able to do that.
“But they’re a good, determined young group of men who want to get better.”