Rugby League Expert & Columnist @RLBarrieMc10
Leeds Rhinos won't look abroad for coach, says Barrie McDermott
Watch Leeds Rhinos vs St Helens live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event on Thursday, from 7pm
Last Updated: 14/08/19 2:16pm
Leeds will not rush the appointment of their new head coach but will look closer to home after having their "fingers burned" with their last full-time appointment, according to Barrie McDermott.
Interim head coach Richard Agar has played down reports he is set to take over on a permanent basis, and Sky Sports rugby league expert McDermott believes the Rhinos will have learned their lesson following the short reign of David Furner.
The Australian left the Emerald Headingley club after just 14 matches with his side third from bottom after just four wins, and director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said at the time in May that a "fresh direction" was needed.
"Agar has played it perfectly I think," McDermott told Sky Sports. "He's taken the pressure away from the players, almost making them not focus on the bloke in charge, and he's put the focus on the players getting the best version of themselves.
"I'm not sure if he wants the job, and he's said a number of times that his main focus is getting these players just playing to their maximum potential.
"I don't think Leeds Rhinos will look overseas - I think they've had their fingers burned. Dave Furner started the season and was an ex-player, and assistant coach of some repute but he didn't quite get it right.
I don't think Leeds Rhinos will look overseas - I think they've had their fingers burned. Dave Furner started the season and was an ex-player, and assistant coach of some repute but he didn't quite get it right.
"Agar has steadied the ship, but I think Kevin Sinfield and [chief executive] Gary Hetherington will get to the end of the year, look at who's available, and work out who's the best candidate for the job.
"I suspect that Richard Agar will be part of that staff, whether he's the man in charge or not."
The battle for Super League survival looks set to go down to the wire, but Leeds head into their game with leaders St Helens, live on Sky Sports on Thursday, off the back of two wins.
The Rhinos were bottom of the table after winning just two of their first 10 matches but have climbed to eighth thanks to four victories from their last six and now have their sights set on making it three in a row for the first time this year.
When asked how many points Leeds will need to stay up, McDermott added: "I'm not sure about points, and I'm not sure about wins, but the way Leeds are specifically defending at the minute is what I'm looking at.
"They've always been able to score tries, but some of their additions that have taken place over the last month or so has certainly helped them.
"They've only conceded one try in their last two games, and just eight points have gone against them. They're showing a lot of confidence at Headingley.
"It's the first time in a long time that the atmosphere was evident against Catalans, and it really inspired them to play well."
'Ward a coach of the year contender'
London Broncos travel to face Catalans Dragons on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Arena, knowing that time is running out if they are to preserve their Super League status.
Danny Ward's side have lost five of their last six games, but they did beat the Dragons in Perpignan 30-12 in June.
The Broncos are two points adrift of 11th-placed Hull KR, who are joined on 18 points by Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity.
McDermott believes Ward has already defied his doubters, adding: "With four games left, they've far exceeded expectations.
"Danny Ward, for me, is the coach of the year, unless the St Helens coach Justin Holbrook wins all three trophies available to him.
"If he wins the Challenge Cup final and the Grand final, then you'd have to give it to him, but if he doesn't, then certainly Danny Ward is in with a shout as he's done remarkably well.
"They only came up after upsetting the apple cart by going to Toronto Wolfpack and getting a win. Many people said they'd do well to get one win, but they've had a bolt load.
"They went to Catalans Dragons earlier in the year and got an invaluable win. This will be a physical game, a tight game. The Dragons should have enough at home, but I expect the Broncos to go down swinging."
Watch Catalans Dragons vs London Broncos, live on Sky Sports Mix, this Saturday from 4.55pm.