MX23RW : Monday, August 2 00:27:38| >> :600:3595280:3595280:

Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar fears for Wembley finals

Leeds' home game against St Helens and Wigan's trip to Huddersfield on Friday have both been postponed after an outbreak of Covid-19.

Leeds coach Richard Agar fears for rugby league's Wembley showpiece finals after witnessing the coronavirus pandemic strike at the heart of Super League once more.

Leeds' home game against St Helens and Wigan's trip to Huddersfield on Friday have both been postponed after an outbreak of Covid-19 at the Rhinos and the Giants.

There are now major doubts over Leeds' next scheduled fixture, which involves a trip to the south of France to play Catalans Dragons on Saturday week, and Agar is worried about the potential impact on the Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup finals at Wembley on July 17.

Castleford meet St Helens for the main prize at the national stadium while, in a curtain-raiser, York and Featherstone play in the second 1895 final.

The Rhinos won the 2020 Challenge Cup behind closed doors at Wembley in a final delayed until October with victory over Salford, who were without Dan Sarginson and Jack Ormondroyd after they failed Covid-19 tests.

"Having been there ourselves last year and knowing what the testing procedures are like, it's a big worry for me," Agar said.

"If the rate of infection keeps doubling, as it seems to have done, over the next three or four weeks, there's a wider implication for the sport and the impact it could have on those showpiece games.

Leeds Rhinos v Salford Red Devils – Coral Challenge Cup Final – Wembley Stadium
Leeds coach Richard Agar won the Challenge Cup behind closed doors at Wembley in 2020 and is worried about the impact of Covid-19 on this year's final (Mike Egerton/PA)

"We know what it's like and Dan Sarginson could tell you about the anxieties around all that."

Two Leeds players have so far tested positive for Covid-19, forcing them to self-isolate for 10 days, and another seven have been shown to be close contacts through track and trace.

Under the Rugby Football League's Covid-19 protocols, a team can apply to postpone a match if seven or more senior players are unavailable and the governing body says it has accepted Leeds' request for the Headingley fixture.

Huddersfield were keen to play their game against Wigan despite having seven players test positive but Agar says he was left with just 14 available players, including two academy youngsters.

"It's genuinely impossible for us to field a team," he said. "We're in a pretty deflated place this morning.

"We went through it all last year when I don't think any club had it worse than us.

"Generally the feeling was we'd got through all that but clearly the new wave seems to be on its way.

"We bent over backwards to get every fixture fulfilled and the toll it took on this squad was unbelievable, it was last man standing.

Wakefield Trinity v Huddersfield Giants – Betfred Super League – Mobile Rocket Stadium
Huddersfield's home game against Wigan was also called off (Richard Sellers/PA)

"We're desperate to avoid the type of situation where we're playing four games in 14 days and five games in 20 days.

"The concern for me as a coach is that I'm losing a shed-load of players over the next 10 days.

"We're on the back of a good win and getting some momentum, so there's going to be a break which is incredibly frustrating and disappointing and worrying."

All four clubs will liaise with the RFL on possible re-arranged dates, although the table will again be determined by win points percentage to allow for the possibility of not all fixtures being fulfilled.

Daryl Powell file photo
Castleford coach Daryl Powell admits players probably need to be more vigilant (Richard Sellers/PA)

Huddersfield and Leeds, who were both forced to close their training ground for five days in January due to a spate of positive tests, were inactive last week after being knocked out of the Challenge Cup and gave their squad time off but Agar does not believe his players acted irresponsibly.

"We talked to the boys this morning about if there is a lull in relaxing protocols but we don't think there has been," Agar said.

"But the bottom line is that shops, restaurants and coffee shops are open, can we afford to go in any public places any more?"

Castleford coach Daryl Powell, who will lead his team out at Wembley in his final season with the club, admits players probably need to be more vigilant.

"Everybody is becoming a bit more relaxed about it at the moment for obvious reasons," he said. "We need to try and make sure we're looking after ourselves."

The Leeds game was due to be shown live by Sky Sports, who will now switch coverage to the match between Hull KR and Salford.

ID:450769: cacheID:450769:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:11311:
Latest coronavirus PSA banner
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
A general shot of Leeds Rhinos vs. Salford Red Devils in August 2020
Read Next:
Sean Long backs Leeds to give St Helens "a good crack"
Read more about Richard Agar Rugby League

rhs 2.0
Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States20231659
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events

· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!