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Men's Rugby League Richard Agar: I can take Leeds forward

RICHARD AGAR will draw on the experience of two of his fellow Yorkshiremen, Daryl Powell and Brian McDermott, in attempting to bring back the glory days for Leeds.

The 47-year-old Agar was confirmed by the Rhinos’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield as the club’s permanent head coach on a 12-month rolling contract after four months in temporary charge.

Agar took over from Australian Dave Furner, who lasted only three months after his side lost 10 of their first 14 games, and guided them to seven wins from their last 14 to guarantee their survival in Super League.

“It’s funny the way things work out,” Agar told a press conference at Headingley. “When I was thinking about taking the job, I did look at Daryl Powell and Brian McDermott and how they came into the job.

“Brian took over at short notice from Bluey [Brian McClennan] and Daryl came in on the back of the club parting with Dean Lance and I think I can draw some similarities from those experiences.

“I think both guys went on to do marvellous jobs and, if I can aim up half as much as those two, I know I will have done a good job.

“It’s come about through adversity but I feel I’m equipped to take that opportunity.”

Leeds suffered a shock Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of Bradford in his first match, described by Agar as “probably one of the darkest days in the club’s history,” and took the team back to basics after losing heavily to Castleford a week later.

Four months on, Agar is confident he can continue the revival, even if he has to work with the existing squad.

“I’m quite happy with the squad,” he said. “I think there’s plenty of improvement left.

“There’s parts of our game where it’s crystal clear where we need to be better and I think some of that can be done in a bit of an off-season fix-up.

“If the squad doesn’t change, I’m pretty confident we can move it forward but Kevin will be busy behind the scenes and, like every other club if we can strengthen our squad within the salary cap, then we’ll look to do it.”

The former Hull and Wakefield boss has a wealth of coaching experience.

In addition to his head coaching roles, he worked under John Kear and Tony Smith at Hull and Warrington respectively and was in charge of the French national team for the 2013 World Cup.

Agar left Warrington at the end of the 2017 season to take up a role on the backroom staff of St George Illawarra but returned to England last December after being appointed as the Rhinos’ head of coach and player development, a newly created role.

He then took over as Furner’s assistant when James Lowes left the club for rugby union in April and was the obvious choice to take over on a temporary basis when his boss was sacked.

Sinfield, who as captain led Leeds to seven Super League titles, says he spoke to other candidates and kept Agar informed of his progress before coming to his decision.

“We’ve worked really well together,” Sinfield said. “Even when you look at what’s out there, he was the stand-out candidate. We’re very fortunate to secure somebody who has got that much experience and understands exactly where our players are at.

“It is a big job. To be in the bottom four throughout the last four seasons is not where this club should be and between us we’ll do our very best to get back to where we need to be.”

Sinfield says he is still working on the rest of the club’s backroom staff.

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