WATCH: Leeds Rhinos v Catalans Dragons - Home comforts key to Rhinos’ chances of avoiding relegation

IT still seems strange to be talking about relegation in June yet, by this time next week, many Super League sides will only have eight games remaining.

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With that in mind, Leeds Rhinos need to win tomorrow.

Headingley hope: Super League strugglers Leeds Rhinos need to start winning tomorrow against visitors Catalans Dragons but can be heartened by the fact that of their remaining 10 games this season, seven will come in front of their home fans and the new South Stand. (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

Clearly, it is not the clichéd ‘must win’. But they need to win.

Everyone else in the mire at the bottom are showing ability to get wins. And some keep on winning.

Hull KR’s fabulous victory over Hull FC on Thursday saw them rise off the foot of the table and dump Leeds there instead.

London Broncos, who had been 12th and holding up the rest for so long, will string together a fourth successive win if they prosper at Castleford Tigers tomorrow.

Huddersfield Giants remain wildly inconsistent but any team that can beat Hull 55-2 has the ability to be challenging the top-five rather than worrying about demotion.

On that basis, struggling Leeds cannot rely on others; if they fail to beat Catalans Dragons at Emerald Headingley tomorrow, things will soon get unbearable.

Strangely, the game feels like the start of a third different Rhinos incarnation this season.

There was the Dave Furner months, the Australian head coach who had just 14 games to get things right and was then promptly sacked.

Then Richard Agar was parachuted in to steady the ship. He has done that to a degree, certainly improving Leeds’ defence.

But director of rugby Kevin Sinfield will surely have wanted more than two wins from six since then. And certainly not envisaged a Challenge Cup exit at Bradford Bulls.

Clearly, Agar can hardly be blamed for the state Leeds are in. He has had his hands tied.

But this feels like a third variation of the 2019 Leeds Rhinos given the significant player movement in recent days.

Kallum Watkins, Matt Parcell and Tui Lolohea have all left this week with Robert Lui and Shaun Lunt coming in.

It feels like the last roll of the dice.

Amid it all, it has to be hoped that Lui, the Australian stand-off bought from Salford Red Devils, will deliver where Lolohea – who has moved the other way – failed.

All eyes will be on Lui tomorrow and there is no reason to believe he cannot be the man who brings it altogether for Rhinos.

Agar said: “At the moment we need a different syle of half-back to what Tui brings.

“He is a stand-off who plays a bit at full-back and we need a six who is more like a seven.

“Robert will give us more direction around the field and he has settled in well.

“Matty is a terrific player and popular in the squad, but moving on gives him an opportunity to start more games and it also frees up a significant amount of space on the salary cap and a valuable spot on the overseas quota.”

Trent Merrin takes over the captaincy after Watkins’ early exit to Gold Coast Titans – tomorrow was supposed to be his swansong before registration issues forced his early departure.

Merrin has been a class act so far for Leeds since arriving from Penrith Panthers in the autumn and he is an obvious captain.

But the bustling forward must now live up to his ‘marquee’ status for reasons he can never have imagined; leading Rhinos clear from the abyss of the Championship rather than driving for Old Trafford.

Granted, by virtue of a better points difference, Leeds will leapfrog Rovers again if they can defeat the French visitors.

But, currently, there is always an ‘if.’ Understandably, Agar will try and take the pressure off, insisting it is not imperative they beat Steve McNamara’s side.

“They are all big games; it is a 10-game shoot-out,” said the interim coach.

“We have got 10 cup finals left, but if we take care of our ends we will get it done before 10 games.

“It is one week at a time.”

What should rest in Leeds’ favour is the venue for the majority of those remaining fixtures.

“We have got seven out of 10 at home and you’d much prefer it that way,” admitted Agar.

“There is close to a third of the season left.

“Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table have got to play each other so a lot can change, but I have said all along, I reckon we will be the ones who decide where we finish.

“I will emphasise the players are pretty positive about getting this job done and trying to get it done as quickly as possible.”

Catalans, as ever, are a strange beast; they had been going along nicely near the top end of the table but have lost their last four games, conceding 165 points in the process and scoring just 34 as Hull (twice), London – in Perpignan – and Warrington all ran amok.

Agar admitted; “They are hard to pick. They won three on the bounce and then lost four and some of the defeats have been by decent margins.

“But they are a dangerous team that’s got some real quality players in there. We know they will be desperate to turn it around to maintain their push for the top four or five spots.”

Lui and Lunt come straight into Leeds’ 19-man squad.

Catalans have Lucas Albert and Arthur Romano back but still miss the likes of Micky McIlorum, Greg Bird, Tony Gigot, Matt Whitley, Jason Baitieri, Kenny Edwards and Lewis Tierney.