Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar demands change in "attitude"

LEEDS RHINOS head coach Richard Agar wants to see his under-pressure squad sort their “attitude” before anything else tonight.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar (Simon Wilkinson/SWPIX)
Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar (Simon Wilkinson/SWPIX)

They are looking to get a first win of the Betfred Super League season and avoid a third straight defeat of the campaign when they host Catalans Dragons.

Although 12-man Leeds came close to beating Warrington Wolves on the opening day, they were decidedly poor when losing 34-12 at Wigan Warriors on Friday.

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Defeating last year’s League Leaders and Grand Finalists Catalans will not be easy either and Agar conceded: “Everybody wants to get off the mark.

Leeds Rhinos under pressure in last week's loss against Wigan Warriors (ALEX WHITEHEAD/SWPIX)

“After coming close in Round One and feeling like we should have gotten something out of the game, it was a flat performance and flat feeling for us last week.

“It’s a short turnaround and not much time to fix too much up on the training field.

“But making sure the one thing we can fix up - our effort areas and attitude getting into the contest - that’s the number one port of call for us.

“There’s room for improvement across the board.

“I think we had some pretty ordinary performances. We know where we let ourselves down and importantly we know how to fix it up, too.”

Catalans edged past Wakefield Trinity 24-22 in Perpignan on Saturday having been vanquished by champions St Helens in their first game of 2022.

They are without banned props Gil Dudson and Dylan Napa while another front-row - Julian Bousquet - has broken his arm.

Agar knows where their strengths lie and said: “They are a real methodical team.

“They do what they do and do it really well. Their spine plays with a lot of control and their shift plays - always with Sam Tomkins on the back end of them - are very dangerous.

“(Josh) Drinkwater is a really smart player as in when he decides to run, kick and pass.

“Clearly they are missing some middles and have some inexperience in and around where they would usually have some big, big powerful guys.

“But they know their jobs. Even though they got beat by Saints in Round One I thought there were some alright signs for them.

“Last week, while the score ended up close, I never thought they were truly threatened for the game. They were pretty much in control without ever really extending themselves too much.

“I’m expecting a tough contest with two teams knowing they have some improvement in them.”

Agar is delighted to have Brad Dwyer back in his squad after he sat out the Wigan game due to a one-game suspension.

“We lacked some line speed last week,” he said.

“Our defence was really passive which I didn’t think was a feature the week before; the ruck speed was too quick on us.

“But the one thing that Brad gives us is sharpness. He’s high energy line speed, has good inside pressure, tons of enthusiasm, he’s a tough little thing and he has that ability to spark us so we’re looking forward to getting him back.”

Given the number of front-rows Steve McNamara’s side are without, it would be obvious to suggest Leeds could find Catalans vulnerable around the middle.

“If you take four or five good players out of any team, it will have an effect on their line-up,” added Agar.

“But I still think they have some good experienced players in there. They have a good spine and their backline - particularly if (Tom) Davies plays - is numbers one to seven in that regard.

“Their starting back-rows are in there, too, so we’re not looking at them thinking this will make them particularly vulnerable.

“Any team that loses the likes of Julian (Bousquet), Dylan Napa and Gil Dudson, it will have an impact. It’s an opportunity for their young guys to step up but we’re more focused on us.

“After that performance last week we certainly have some areas of accountability.”