The Richard Agar era at Leeds Rhinos came to an end with Agar’s departure at the end of last month, and the club are currently looking for his successor.
Whoever the new coach is will inherit a large group of players signed by Agar. A total of 14 senior players have arrived at Headingley during Agar’s tenure in charge of the club, and while some of them have been huge successes, others have yet to perform as expected.
Here are all the signings from the Agar era ranked, from those that still have question marks to those that have undoubtedly succeeded.
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It’s fair to say that the jury is still out on Leeds’ two starting half-backs for 2022. Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer just haven’t clicked individually or collectively in Rhinos shirts yet this season, and while there’s still plenty of time left for them to find their feet, Austin and Sezer haven’t reached the heights they would have hoped for when their signings were announced.
While Austin and Sezer both arrived under pressure given their reputations and previous Super League form, there may be a bit more on Sezer’s shoulders. He has certainly shown glimpses of his ability since joining Huddersfield, but given his salary and the fact he wears the number seven shirt, Leeds fans are expecting a lot more from Sezer as 2022 progresses.
The striker has always felt like a provisional signing at Headingley for 2021, and once it became clear he had an interest from elsewhere in the form of the Salford Red Devils he was unlikely to ever be a long-term option for Leeds, with so many promising forwards. But Vuniyayawa has done a pretty solid job for the Rhinos in his lonely season at the club.
Like so many Rhinos signings for 2022, we really haven’t seen the best of Fusitu’a yet in a blue and amber jersey. It’s not his fault though, with injuries and concussions preventing him from having a good run at the Leeds side this year.
Bentley’s return to the hometown club was of course overshadowed by the red card he received on his competitive debut against Warrington Wolves. However, there is no doubt that Leeds have secured a player with a huge long-term future and the potential to become the cornerstone of their pack for years to come.
Very much a signing for the future, Leeds’ decision to bring Johnson back to Headingley last year after looking to resume his professional career was a no-brainer. The hooker has spent time on loan to re-learn his trade and has had a taste of the first team since re-signing. In years to come, Johnson’s signing will look like a very shrewd signing, you’d expect.
Considered by many fans to be a curious signing, the 33-year-old has managed to hold down a place in the Leeds squad on a fairly regular basis since initially being loaned out by Toronto Wolfpack. At a time when Leeds needed a boost in the squad, Thompson’s experience certainly helped them to no end last year, and he’ll likely be just as important in and among a young attacking line again. in 2022.
Gale’s return to his hometown club certainly didn’t end as he would have liked, having been stripped as captain and securing a transfer to Hull FC in the off-season. But in his two seasons at Leeds, Gale has certainly left his mark – and the fact that he scored the winning point in the 2020 Challenge Cup final is something Rhinos fans will never forget.
The former Bradford junior’s future beyond this season looks uncertain at the moment, with Mellor yet to agree a contract with the Rhinos. However, there is no doubt that he has been a good servant for Leeds since signing at the start of the 2020 season. He may have dropped on the club’s squad number lists this year, but Mellor will continue to be important for the next Leeds manager.
The 30-year-old’s start to life at Leeds was somewhat turbulent, characterized by the suspensions that marred his first few months in blue and amber. But since then, Tetevano has become one of the true pack leaders for the Rhinos, and there’s no doubt that they’re a weaker team when Tetevano is out. Of all the Agar-era signings, Tetevano seems to be one of the most important for both short-term and long-term success.
Eyebrows were raised when Tui Lolohea and Lui swapped clubs just weeks into Hagar’s tenure. But one of his first moves in the transfer market was repeated huge rewards, helping the club win the Challenge Cup and guiding him through difficult transition periods in 2019. Agar spoke on several occasions about the importance of the Lui deal to help the club. through rough waters, and he left a real mark on Headingley during his time at the club.
Going into the 2020 season, Leeds badly needed frontline leadership and experience to avoid a repeat of the struggles of 2019. The signing of Prior certainly ticked those boxes and his impact at Headingley was almost immediate. He helped rejuvenate the Rhinos, playing a central role in their Challenge Cup success and it was no surprise when, after being named captain mid last year, Leeds extended his contract until 2022 .
High-profile Super League signings don’t always work out, but you suspected Kruise Leeming’s move to the Leeds Rhinos would always pay off. The hooker has been one of the Rhinos’ most consistent players since joining the club and now captaining the club, it’s clear Leeming will be a cornerstone of the team for years to come. Most Super League teams would love a player of Leeming’s caliber.
Martin’s arrival in mid-2019 was, in hindsight, crucial to Leeds’ short-term fortunes. He made an instant impact, guiding them to safety in Super League and since then has continued his fine form both in general play and from the start. Still aged just 29, Martin could easily be a mainstay for the Rhinos for many more years to come and of all the Agar-era signings, Martin’s was perhaps the best of them all.