Richard Agar hails Leeds youngster Morgan Gannon as he provides Ash Handley update

Richard Agar has tipped Morgan Gannon for a big future in the game after the teenager helped Leeds Rhinos to a vital 18-12 victory over Huddersfield Giants.

The Rhinos were coming off the back of a comprehensive win at Leigh Centurions but faced a tougher challenge at Headingley after several players joined the lengthy list of absentees.

Leeds took control just before half-time and did not look like letting their lead slip, although Huddersfield did score two consolation tries late on with Zane Tetevano in the sin bin.

Gannon walked away with the man of the match award to continue the 17-year-old’s rapid rise.

“He stops people dead in contact really, really well,” said Agar.

“He’s got a lot of growing in him yet; he’s only had one half a pre-season with us. He’s got composure and knows his role.

“He kept going after the half-back a bit and chesting him up and came up with two, possibly three line breaks and didn’t overplay on the back of them.

“We don’t want to put too much pressure on him too early but he’s a very smart, level-headed and lovely kid who is going to be a very, very good rugby league player.”

It was not a vintage performance from the Rhinos by any means but the win was enough to consolidate a play-off spot with only four weeks of the regular season remaining.

“We were really spirited and committed,” said Agar.

“Huddersfield can prove a tough team to break down at times but after the initial exchanges I thought it was a game we dominated for long periods.

“I’m not quite sure how we ended up with a six-point difference on the scoreboard.

“It’s not going to be a game that everyone is going to go home and rewind again too many times but we had to do what we had to do tonight. I thought we did it well.”

Leeds were dealt a blow ahead of kick-off after Cameron Smith dropped out due to Covid and lost captain Ash Handley to injury in the second half.

Agar gave an update on Handley’s condition and explained why Brad Dwyer only came on in the closing stages.

“Ash has got a tight groin which is frustrating for him,” he said.

“That’s a difficult one and Brad Dwyer shouldn’t have played really. I put him on for the last 11 minutes but he’s been on his sick bed for the last two days.

“He’s cleared all his Covid tests but has been really, really unwell. We wanted to go through the 80 minutes without using him but we just needed an injection of energy.”

It was a special night at Headingley as club legend Rob Burrow returned to a hero’s welcome.

Rob Burrow is brought out pitchside by wife Lindsey.
Rob Burrow is brought out pitchside by wife Lindsey.

Agar felt the 38-year-old inspired the players and fans as he continues his battle with motor neurone disease.

“In the tunnel all the boys made a point of going over and seeing him,” said Agar.

“He certainly inspired the crowd. I think the crowd can understand what we’re going through.

“Rob kicking the game off for us and also I think it’s great to see young players playing so well.

“The crowd got really involved tonight and played a part. It’s great when they do that and it really helps our guys.”

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