Richard Agar knows all about the mind games of Thursday's opposing coach Tony Smith – on the squash court as well as the rugby field.
The pair are close friends from the days that then Leeds boss Smith invited aspiring coach Agar to spend time at Headingley, and they later worked together at Warrington.
This week they are on opposite sides with Agar now in charge of the Rhinos – and looking to be more successful against Smith than he has been at racquet sports.
Agar explained: “The only problem with playing with Tony is that he tries to head work you on the squash court. We’ve had some battles on the court over the years, but not for a while.
“The games are less and less now, mainly because we’re both probably not in the peak fitness we were at one stage in our lives.
“There’s a guy at Pontefract Squash Club, Malcolm Willstrop, who’s a very esteemed squash coach and big rugby league fan. We like to get over and join in the odd training session.
“Tony will tell you different but he probably had my measure. It was always close, but every three or four games I’d win one and he’d win two or three.”
Agar’s side were emphatic winners when the teams met last weekend, dumping the Robins out of the Challenge Cup with a comprehensive 48-18 win. While Rovers’ season is effectively now over, the Rhinos are still chasing both major trophies in the revamped season.
But Smith has overseen a change in approach at Hull KR that offered hope beyond this season, and Agar is convinced he is the right man to take the club forward in the long term.
Agar added: “We’re very good mates. From my early days at York Tony opened his doors to me as a young coach coming through and I spent a bit of time with him at Leeds.
“We kept a relationship through then, and I subsequently worked with him. For any coach thats a wonderful learning experience.
“I really believe that Tony’s values and beliefs on rugby league will stand the test of time, regardless of trends in the game and how it’s played. Some of his fundamental core views and values are very true to what rugby league should be in my opinion.”
Source: Read Full Article