Only Sutcliffe sidelined as Rhinos gear up

Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar will be working with more players than twelve months ago when his build-up to the 2022 season starts in earnest.

The Rhinos were ravaged by injuries this year when they made the play-off semi-finals before going down 36-8 at eventual champions St Helens.

There were fitness problems well before the campaign began, but this time around, only Liam Sutcliffe is currently in the treatment room.

The versatile back, who is approaching his tenth season with Leeds, is recovering from surgery on the knee problem that hampered him for much of this year.

He finally succumbed in mid-August, having played 13 times and scored three tries.

“As it stands, only Liam Sutcliffe (pictured) won’t be ready to train at the start of pre-season and he won’t be too far off, hopefully,” Agar too the Evening Post.

“We will have 30-plus players ready from the word go. It is a completely different situation to last year.

“We had a lot (of problems) going into pre-season. There were post-season operations, some guys broke down in rehab, some guys broke down in pre-season or trial games and then early in the season.”

Leeds, who are targeting a first Super League title since 2017, have signed St Helens’ former Bradford backrower James Bentley, New Zealand Warriors’ Tonga international back David Fusitu’a and highly-rated halfbacks Blake Austin (from Warrington) and Aidan Sezer (Huddersfield).

The Rhinos have also recruited strength and conditioning specialist Richard Hunwicks as performance director.

Hunwicks, who has a Master’s degree in performance sport, was at Leeds for seven years until 2013.

Since then, he has worked with the England team and has spent the last four seasons at this year’s League Leaders’ Shield winners and Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons.

Long-serving backroom team member Jason Davidson has taken on a team management role.

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