Agar pleased with player focus
Hull FC’s outgoing coach Richard Agar insists the upheaval at the club is not proving to be a distraction in the build-up to his side’s crunch clash with Engage Super League leaders Warrington Wolves at the KC Stadium tomorrow.
The Black and Whites go into their final match of the regular season just three days after learning of Agar’s impending exit, with former head coach Shaun McRae brought back by new owner Adam Pearson to find a successor.
Australian Peter Gentle remains the firm favourite to take over from Agar, who is thought to have been offered the chance to succeed John Kear at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats next season.
Agar, who today confirmed he has spoken to Wakefield, believes he will have a new job before Hull kick off tomorrow night and is equally confident that he can bow out on a high.
“There are plenty of rumours flying about but I’m pretty confident I’ll be back in work before the weekend so it could have been a lot worse for me,” he said.
“It’s been bit of a whirlwind. I have had talks with two of three clubs since the weekend and I’ll know in the next 24 or 48 hours.
“I think the timing could have been worse. We’re secured in the play-offs and we’ve got another game to go.
“It’s important to stress the boys’ focus has been very good this week. The reality of it is I think it’s better out there in the open so we can all move on.”
Tomorrow’s visit of the Wolves will not necessarily be Agar’s final game at the KC Stadium, for Hull could finish anywhere from fifth, which would give them a home tie in the play-offs, to eighth depending on other results.
Warrington have an even greater incentive, with last Sunday’s thumping 39-12 win over defending champions Wigan Warriors giving them a chance to lift the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time and claim their first top-table finish since 1973.
“I don’t think there will be too many people tipping us, with Warrington having an awful lot to play for,” admitted Agar.
“I don’t think it makes a mountain of difference to Smithy (Wolves head coach Tony Smith) whether they finish first or second in terms of what’s going to happen in the play-offs.
“But I’m sure he’d like to finish the regular season on top and get a little bit of silverware to boot.”
Hull will actually be aiming to complete a notable double, following their 24-10 win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Easter Monday, and Warrington’s first-team coach Willie Poching insists his side will not under-estimate their opponents.
“There’s a lot of people saying they are the form team in the competition at the moment and that’s with some just cause,” Poching said.
“They were very good against Castleford at the weekend and scored some really fantastic tries.
“It’s tough going to Hull at any time of year but to go there on a Friday night, last game of the season, there’s a lot of emotion.
“It’s a farewell for some players and their coach is leaving at the end of the season so they’ve got some emotional ties to the game and we’ll really need to be on our guard.
“They’ve already got us once at The Halliwell Jones and they are in a lot better form now than when they got us the first time round so we really need to go there with the intent to play the best we can.”
A point would be enough for Warrington to be presented with the Shield at next week’s opening play-off tie but, in the meantime, the silverware will be at the DW Stadium tomorrow in case the Wolves slip.
Wigan, a point behind their rivals, are likely to end the season with victory over Crusaders RL, who are playing their last match in the Super League following their decision to withdraw their licence application.
That match has an extra twist, with Crusaders coach Iestyn Harris expected to link up with the Warriors as assistant to new boss Shaun Wane, whose appointment is thought to be imminent.
Harris will be keen for his side to avoid the wooden spoon in their last season.
They are battling it out with Wakefield, who are bottom on points difference and play their final match under coach John Kear against Bradford Bulls at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium tomorrow.
The Bulls can climb no higher than 10th but coach Mick Potter is hoping they finish a disappointing season on a high following their 48-24 win over Crusaders last week.
“We have had a bit of a rollercoaster ride this year and last week we did some very good things but we also did some things we need to improve on,” said Potter.
“They are a side that is capable of scoring tries. I am expecting it to be tough because even in the games they have lost they have still managed to score some tries.”