Coach Rohan Smith’s aiming to take Leeds Rhinos back to the top of Super League

INITIALLY IT will be a case of taking things week by week, but new coach Rohan Smith has lofty ambitions for his time at Leeds Rhinos.

By Peter Smith
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 5:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 8:35 am

Smith arrived in the city yesterday to begin a three-and-a-half-year contract.

And, speaking at his first Headingley-based press conference, the 40-year-old Australian said his aim is for Rhinos to be “at the top” by the time his initial deal ends.

Smith is the nephew of Tony Smith who coached Rhinos to Super League Grand Final wins in 2004 and 2007 and son of former NRL and Super League team boss Brian Smith, whose past clubs include Wakefield Trinity.

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Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith at Headingley. Picture: Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWpix.com.

He was recruited from Brisbane Broncos’ feeder side Norths Devils who he guided to the Queensland Cup title last year.

Rhinos’ players are on a break until tomorrow, but Smith met some of them who were undergoing rehab’ at the club’s Kirkstall training base yesterday.

He outlined his first priority as getting to know the squad ahead of his debut in charge, away to Salford Red Devils on Sunday, May 15.

“Building relationships is key for performance,” he said.

Leeds Rhinos assistant coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“Everyone being connected is something I am big on. I eagerly await catching up with the players for a chat, those that want to sit down and have a detailed chat.

“That’s the best way to get to know guys and I think that will help me to be able to help them.”

Smith was meeting with members of his backroom staff for the first time today. Rhinos are on a two-game winning run and the new coach stressed he won’t be making radical changes overnight.

“I am keen to build on what has happened in the last couple of weeks,” he added.

Current Hull KR coach and former Leeds Rhinos boss Tony Smith (uncle of Rhinos' newly-appointed head coach Rohan Smith). Picture: Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.

“The performances have been strong; a lot of effort and energy has gome into them and they have been playing like a team. I am keen to spend some time with the coaches [today] to talk through the things they have been working on and the direction they’ve been trying to push the group.

“Then, [I’ll be] working with that and adding to that.

“I am certainly not looking to shift too far away from things as of Thursday; it will be a gradual process on the back of some good work in recent weeks.”

Smith praised the work done by Jamie Jones-Buchanan - who is staying on as an assistant-coach - during his six weeks in caretaker control.

“From afar, it looks like he has done a strong job,” he said.

“It is a tough gig for a youthful coach, but he has got such great energy and passion for the club and lots of great ideas and values.

“You can see the team have been playing well together, they have fought through some adversity and got a couple of strong results.”

In terms of performance, Smith said: “The aim every week will be to improve and learn some lessons and to complete.”

Rhinos have been hit by a string of suspensions this year and Morgan Gannon and Matt Prior will miss Smith’s first two games.

“The teams I have coached have generally been low-penalty and low-suspension teams,” Smith said. “We will be working through some things as individuals but also, as a collective group, players have to understand the impact it can have on the current match and also the coming weeks.

“It can stretch the club in lots of ways, but I also understand no one goes out to get suspended, no one’s doing it deliberately.”