Challenge Cup - Leeds Rhinos coach Agar reluctant to reveal line-up to face St Helens

LEEDS RHINOS coach Richard Agar is playing his cards close to his chest ahead of this weekend’s Challenge Cup tie at St Helens.

Former St Helens and Rugby Union star Kyle Eastmond might just debut for Leeds Rhinos against his former Rugby Leaue club. Picture: Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWPix.com.

Agar has refused to reveal if dual-code international Kyle Eastmond will finally make his Rhinos debut, against the club he played for before switching to rugby union a decade ago.

Eastmond joined Rhinos at the start of March, but was deemed “not ready” for their pre-season game or either of Leeds’ opening Super League fixtures.

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Agar insisted he would have “no problems” putting Eastmond into his side for Saturday’s third round tie but, speaking at an online press conference which also featured Saints coach Woolf, he stressed: “We’ll see how we get through this week.”

Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar, centre, with assistants, former St Helens star Sean Long, and Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

Agar said: “I am not going to give Kristian too many nudges and winks as to our line-up.

“I’ll let him work his way through some permutations.

“We had a fairly hectic game last weekend and we’ve got one or two question marks on ins and outs.

“We’ll work our way through the week and make a call later on, towards the weekend.”

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Rhinos were without nine players, including five first-choice backs, for last Friday’s defeat by Castleford Tigers.

Agar will name a 21-man squad tomorrow, but confirmed nobody - other than possibly Eastmond - is expected back this week.

“They are probably a week or so away,” he said.

“I think it’s more likely the Wigan or Hull KR games are when we start to get quite a number of guys back.”

This weekend’s tie pitches the current holders against the reigning Super League champions.

Leeds’ injury problems and Saints’ impressive start to the season will make the hosts strong favourites, but Agar pledged his side will not let go of the trophy without a struggle.

“It is the toughest draw you could get,” Agar conceded.

“But what you know if you want to win a Cup competition in this country is, somewhere along the line, you have got to pick off a [top] team or two.

“That’s the beauty of it.

“It is do or die football and I think it’s important we stress to our guys we are not going to die wondering.”

He added: “They have been the benchmark team for a fair period of time and made a really impressive start to the season.

“But we spoke pre-season about our desire and the manner we want to try and defend the trophy.

“We know it’s going to be a pretty big challenge, but we’ll get our boys excited about it this week, that’s for sure.”

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