“I don’t think it was ever a role he particularly wanted” – What Sky Sports’ pundits had to say about Leeds Rhinos’ defeat to Salford Red Devils

Last night on Sky Sports, there was something of a post-mortem as Sky’s best and brightest tried to dissect Leeds’ collapse against Salford.

The Rhinos were leading 12-8 as the game entered its fourth and final quarter as Leeds looked to get back on track after four defeats from five. Richard Agar even took off star signing Blake Austin he was so determined to keep Leeds energised in the middle of the field instead opting to play two nines in Brad Dwyer and Kruise Leeming.

However, when Aidan Sezer’s attacking kick was fielded on the full by Joe Burgess who then took a quick 20 metre tap and broke down field, the game would shift in Salford’s favour with Chris Atkin then scoring the first of three Salford tries which killed the game and led to a 26-12 triumph for the Red Devils.

Of course, now with five defeats from six, many questions were asked of Leeds as those on Sky Sports attempted to break down the defeat and understand Leeds’ current plight as they flounder in 10th position a long way away from their lofty ambitions and their expectations going into 2022 as they were tipped to finally challenge for the title again.

Now in serious danger following Toulouse’s shock win over St Helens to get off the mark, Leeds may begin to sweat,

After the match, Jon Wells described Leeds as “in a hole” before Brian Carney asked former Leeds skipper and current Salford centre Kallum Watkins what needed to change at Headingley.

“They need that result to turn themselves round,” Watkins said who left Leeds as part of a rebuild in 2019, “They’ve got an opportunity next week in the cup. Hopefully they can get a good result there which will give them confidence in the next couple of weeks now.”

But the most controversial statements came courtesy of Phil Clarke. Before the game, Clarke criticised Blake Austin saying he had “deteriorated” since his fantastic inaugural season in Super League in 2019. He also stated that the Leeds pack perhaps wasn’t good enough when addressing Leeds’ 31-8 loss to Hull FC noting that in both sides’ first sets, Hull gained almost twice as much yardage.

After the game, he was even harsher when analysing Leeds, their coach and their recruitment: “He’s [Head Coach Richard Agar] been the coach of Leeds for 70 games, that might be his 71st. I don’t think it was ever a role he particularly wanted and he doesn’t look particularly comfortable in it at the end of that game.

“Something has to change at Leeds. They put all their chips on replacing Luke Gale and bringing in Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin and said this is going to be our solution. Then they’ve taken Blake Austin off the field here.

“It’s Round Six and deciding he’s not good enough, he’s not our attacking solution, he’s not in our starting 17, is massive call so early in the year.”

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