Richard Agar stands down as Leeds Rhinos head coach ahead of St Helens clash

The Rhinos play Saints in their next Super League fixture on April 1.

<p>Richard Agar has stepped down as head coach of Leeds Rhinos. Photo: Lewis Storey/Getty Images</p>

Richard Agar has stepped down as head coach of Leeds Rhinos. Photo: Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Leeds Rhinos have announced that head coach Richard Agar has taken the decision to stand down from his role with the first team squad with immediate effect but will have a future role at the club, which will be confirmed at a later date.

Assistant coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan will be the new interim head coach working with former St Helens legend Sean Long and performance director Richard Hunwicks along with the rest of the existing rugby department ahead of this Saturday’s Betfred Challenge Cup tie against Castleford Tigers at Headingley.

Commenting on the decision, Agar said: “When I first took on the job, I agreed to a six month rolling contract and I was happy to continue while we were making progress. However, I don’t feel like I am having the impact I would hope to have on the squad.

“I am proud of our record over the last three years. The club was in a tough position when I took over, we battled against relegation before facing the unprecedented challenges of COVID and an injury ravaged squad last season.

“ On the field, we won the Challenge Cup at Wembley, reached the playoffs in the last two seasons and saw the emergence of a number of highly promising young players. I really believe we have a strong squad who have the potential to achieve this year. They are working hard in training every day but unfortunately this has not materialised into results and ultimately that responsibility rests with me.”

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington added: “On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank Richard for his outstanding efforts. Normally with teams in this position, it is easy to identify the causes of a downturn in form such as this but in our case it is a difficult one to solve.

“The team’s preparation has been good each week, the spirit within the group has been strong throughout and our coaches and backroom staff have worked tirelessly to provide our players with excellent support.

“We started the season with what we believed was a very strong squad with an outstanding crop of talented young players, but we have simply not converted that into team performances.

“We do plan to appoint a new head coach and will apply a comprehensive recruitment process but there is no pre-determined time scale for this appointment. This Saturday we entertain Castleford Tigers at Headingley and the Challenge Cup offers another opportunity to get our season started. All our focus will be on this game and then St Helens the following week as we return to Super League action.”

Jamie Jones-Buchanan is excited about his new opportunity and I am sure he will bring the same passion, enthusiasm and expertise to this new role as he showed throughout his playing career,” added Hetherington.