Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Richard Agar was pleased with the effort from his players as they lost 22-20 to Warrington in their first game of 2022.
Leeds went down to 12 men after new signing James Bentley was shown a red card. That happened when Leeds were 4-0 down but in his absence Leeds rallied and got the Wolves on the back foot and very nearly won. But ultimately Agar was left lamenting what he felt was a “lack of composure” late in the game and in good ball situations.
Nonetheless, he was pleased with his side’s performance overall: “The boys are hurting. I felt we dominated the game for large parts with 12 men, dominated even with 11 men and unfortunately the 11 men and 12 men caught up with us right at the death.
“I thought we definitely deserved something out of the game. I thought a lot went against us and our boys tried tremendously hard to ride it out. They’ll be hurting but they should be proud of their effort.”
Of course, the red card – along with yellows for Brad Dwyer and Oliver Holmes – were the main talking points of the game. Agar had his say on the incidents and felt that another incident went by unnoticed: “Clearly I aren’t going to say too much. Ben Currie knocked David Fusitu’a out and we didn’t get a penalty.
“I’ve got no arguments with Bentley’s. He’s hit him in the head with a high shot and under the current directive we can expect that. But just go back and watch the 80 minutes what we’ve all just seen.”
After the incident involving David Fusitu’a which cut his debut short, the winger initially stayed on despite the head injury which saw him drop the ball a couple of times likely due to the concussion he sustained.
On Fusitu’a staying on until halftime Agar said: “That’s something for our medical department that I’ll get to the bottom of after. Clearly they thought he was alright or he’s saying he’s alright.
“I thought it was surprising that we went to him straight after. I thought that was a pretty dumb play.
“He got hit in the head and we got no reward for it.”
Speaking about his availability moving forward, Agar simply said “we’ll have to see.”
He also gave an update on Richie Myler’s groin injury which forced him from the field in the first half: “Again it’s early days, he wasn’t good enough to continue today. We’ll have a fair few selection issues at this stage looking into next week.”
Meanwhile, Leeds will be hoping Harry Newman will return next week although it’s still not certain: “We’ll see, day by day, week by week. He’s feeling good, he’s pushing us but we’ve got to be careful with it.”
Agar also gave special mention to Rhyse Martin who was particularly impressive after a difficult week for the Rhinos second-row: “A special mention to Rhyse Martin. He lost his dad in the week very suddenly. We kept a lid on it, the boys rallied round him well.
“His partner and his baby are back home, he got the news late in the week. I thought his performance today in a situation in your life where it’s a swirl and a very emotional time, he’s stranded over in the UK, we’re going to try and get him home next week to be with his family, but I thought his response and the way he played, his father would have been extremely proud. He was magnificent.”
Today’s game was ultimately controversial but so was the absence of Blake Austin through suspension delaying his debut. Agar had his say on this as well: “Blake’s a quality player we envisage being in our starting line up. So ultimately I’d say we did miss him but Jack Walker was the late change in our team and had a pretty good game for us.”