Agar suggests play-offs expansion

Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar believes expanding the number of clubs in Super League’s play-offs should be considered to overcome the problem of clubs playing different numbers of matches.

Catalans Dragons are in danger of not fulfilling the 15 matches required to be eligible for this year’s top four after a host of postponements and cancellations.

Agar believes one solution could be to end the regular season earlier and have more teams in the play-offs.

He explained: “We’ve been having talks internally. We think that a good way to look at the competition now, with the backlog of fixtures, would be to start the play-offs earlier with more teams in them.

“We’re in a position where if we can navigate our way through to the play-offs it will leave us in a fair old state at the end of it.

“The whole points percentage stuff is getting called into question.

“If we play 21/22 games and Catalans finish with 15 and have dodged all the top five or six on the way in – and that’s not their fault by the way – then where’s the fairness and integrity…

“But if that’s the way it ends up, we all knew that and there’s some difficulties in it.

“We’ll just do our best to try and win our next game – it’s not for us to decide.”

Agar’s Challenge Cup winning squad are now in the midst of a run of six matches in just 17 days as they look to complete their Super League schedule.

And despite the gruelling nature of the Rhinos’ fixture list, the coach says his players are relishing the challenge ahead of them.

Agar said: “We’ve talked about how we might do it and we’re not looking at the first week of the play-offs as our first week.

“We’re saying that our play-off series could be two or three games long and could be in sudden death the last two league games, so to speak.

“They’re on the back of a Challenge Cup win so at the moment they’re full of beans and saying bring it on, let’s get through it.

“They understand we will have a little bit less preview and review and less training time.

“We’ll have to move our squad a bit and loading minutes to get our freshest bodies out there.

“We think we’ve got a plan and plans are certainly changing on a regular basis.

“But our boys are up for it – it’s a tough situation but we’re not looking at it like that.

“We’re looking at it as a massive challenge and a potentially massive achievement to make another final.”

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