INCOMING BOSS Brian Smith is capable of transforming Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ fortunes, according to Leeds Rhinos prop Kylie Leuluai.
Leuluai – who is close to returning from long-term injury – worked with Smith early in his career and feels the Aussie has the ability to get Wildcats’ season back on track.
Wakefield will be bidding to avoid a 14th straight First Utility Super League defeat when Rhinos visit Belle Vue on Sunday.
Smith is due to be at the game as an observer, before officially taking charge of the team on Monday morning.
Leuluai said: “I worked with him back in 2003 at Parramatta.
“He has been around for a long, long time and he has got a good name, especially down in Australia.
“Obviously with Tony (Smith, Brian’s younger brother and current Warrington Wolves coach) being here, that will be good for him.
“I think he will do a good job. He has expectations and if you don’t perform, he doesn’t play you. It will be good to see how they go. I think he is what the team needs, a new face and new ideas. It is good to get someone in who’s new and get their ideas of how they want to play the game.”
Smith, 61, played for St George and South Sydney, before beginning his coaching career with Newtown Jets. He also had a spell on the staff at South Sydney and was appointed head coach of Illawarra Steelers. He coached Hull from 1988-90 before a five-season stint at St George.
After two years back in England with Bradford Bulls, he coached Parramatta Eels, Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters, leading teams to four NRL Grand Finals.
He has been out of the game since 2012, but Leuluai said: “He’s very skill-related, a bit like Tony. He likes his teams to play.
“He will be good for players like Tim Smith and Ali (Lauitiiti). Tim Smith played under him at Parramatta, so they know each other pretty well.”
Wakefield are destined for the Qualifiers, involving Super League’s bottom four teams after 23 rounds, alongside the Kingstone Press Championship’s leading quartet. The four best teams from that mini-competition will play in Super League next year and Leuluai believes Wildcats can stay in the elite division.
“They have got some good players,” he said. “I thought they would do better than they have done this year.
“It will be a different ball game when they go into the middle-eights to what has happened previously.
“That won’t count for anything.
“They could lose all their games until then, but when they get there hopefully Smithy will tweak a few things and they’ll be all right.”
Leuluai, who has underdone shoulder surgery and not played since March 13, remains unavailable this weekend, but hopes to come into contention for the visit of Castleford.
Mitch Achurch is due to undergo surgery on a wrist injury today and will be out of action until the end of August.
Centre Joel Moon will serve a one-game ban this weekend, full-back Zak Hardaker is set to miss Sunday’s match with an ankle problem and back-rowers Brett Delaney and Jamie Jones-Buchanan (both hamstring) are rated as extremely doubtful.