8 Jan 2021

Agar on Rhinos pre-season

Leeds Rhinos returned for pre-season this week and Head Coach, Richard Agar, has given some squad updates and insight into how the club are managing the renewed Covid-19 protocols.

Agar admitted the newly tightened Covid-19 protocols, including getting tested twice a week, made some elements of team training more difficult to organise, especially in wintery weather conditions, but he was confident that the Rhinos could still carry out the requirements of pre-season training.

The first squad update from Agar concerned an early pre-season injury to one of last season’s most influential players in the squad, Luke Gale.

Agar revealed Gale had suffered a torn pec in a gym session earlier this week and faced a race to be fit for the start of the 2021 campaign. Agar said “Luke’s enthusiasm I guess got the better of him in the gym. He’s torn his pec just through lifting in the gym.  

“It was one of those things, he was fully warmed up, not really overdoing it weight wise. It’s a really tough one to happen in the first couple of days. But if it’s going to happen, it’s better happening now so we can get it fixed up.

“Once we get his operation done, next week, there’s the possibility nine or ten weeks is the target date for him.

It’s unlikely he’ll make the start of the season, but he won’t be too far off.”

In better news for Rhinos fans, Agar confirmed that Harry Newman was making good progress on his return from a horrific double leg break in 2020. “We’re not going to rush him back, but he himself is buoyant, very positive and pleased the surgeon has told him he is ahead in his recovery.

“Harry is back on his feet and back on the training field and back with us. Not running but he’s able to do some static skills. He’s handled the time off and injury very very well. It can be difficult period training on your own. I think the way he has dealt with it is remarkable for such a young bloke.”

Agar also updated on the fitness of Jack Walker, Alex Sutcliffe, Luke Briscoe who all had shoulder operations in the off-season. He confirmed all three were progressing well in rehab and aiming to be back fit for the start of the season.

On the scheduled start of the new season (11 March) Agar was confident it would start as planned “I think we navigated it well last year. I guess there is a lot of unknown. If you’d asked me a week ago with a vaccine on the horizon, if we can get those 13m people vaccinated and the Army step in things might be in a radically different place in seven or eight weeks time.

“I asked our club doctor yesterday and he is still pretty confident that things can improve if and when the vaccine starts rolling out more.

“As we’ve seen over the last few days though that is being challenged by the way that the virus is spreading at the moment.

“We are having more protocols added to us and it is a difficult environment to have thirty blokes, trying to get them through pre-season, dealing with video rooms, especially in the middle of winter. It’s a lot easier in Summer when we can do so much outside.  

“But we are all of the mindset that we will do whatever it takes to keep the game on the field as we did last year.”