Agar ready to welcome back his stars

Coach Richard Agar hopes a twelve-day gap between games and the possible reunion of Liam Sutcliffe and Luke Gale in the halves will prove a catalyst as he works to get Leeds’ season back in course.

Depleted by injuries and suspensions and with players operating out of position as a result, the Rhinos have suffered five successive defeats for the first time since the early stages of the 2019 campaign, when David Furner was in charge and Agar his assistant.

Leeds haven’t suffered a sequence worse than that since the troublesome 2016 season, when Brian McDermott’s side lost seven on the spin before finishing in ninth place in Super League, their lowest position since 1996, which forced them to take part in the Middle Eights.

Next up is Friday’s home clash with winless Wakefield, the only side Leeds have seen off so far this year, when Sutcliffe and Gale were in tandem in the 28-22 success in the first round of league matches, all of which took place at Emerald Headingley.

While Kyle Eastmond missed out due to a hamstring problem, Sutcliffe returned after a three-game absence with a knee injury to play last time out in the 14-13 defeat at Huddersfield, who won through Lee Gaskell’s last-ditch field-goal.

Gale, who has had a broken thumb, last featured five matches ago in the 18-10 round-two loss to his former club Castleford at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

The Rhinos have also been beaten by Wigan and Hull KR, and in the Challenge Cup, St Helens, ending their defence of the trophy at the first hurdle and so leaving a blank date on the fixture list.

Both versatile Richie Myler and Kiwi prop Zane Tetevano will miss the Wakefield clash as they complete suspensions of two and four games respectively.

But Agar, whose first-choice stand-off, Australian Rob Lui, has yet to feature this time around because of a quad injury picked up in pre-season, said: “Luke Gale will be back so we will have a genuine halfback to pick from.”

The boss says his senior players need to step up to the plate.

“We shot ourselves in the foot (against Huddersfield),” he added.

“I thought we were in a good position at half-time (when the Giants led 6-4) but the first ten minutes after the break, some experienced players come up with some really poor errors.

“I think when we’ve got so many missing as we have, we need more from those experienced players.”

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