'It's achievable': Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith plots Super League top six push ahead of Hull FC clash

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Coach Rohan Smith insists Leeds Rhinos can still qualify for the Betfred Super League play-offs - but he admits they have to start stringing some wins together soon.

Rhinos began round 17, out of 27, in 10th spot on the ladder, five points behind fifth-place Hull - who they visit this afternoon - and next week’s opponents Castleford Tigers, in sixth.

Two defeats would virtually end Rhinos’ hopes of featuring in the end of season series, which was their minimum target when the campaign began five months ago.

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But asked if finishing in the all-important top six is achievable, Smith pledged: “I would say it is, based on there’s a lot of games to go.”

Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by John Rushworth/SWpix.com.Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by John Rushworth/SWpix.com.
Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by John Rushworth/SWpix.com.

Rhinos, who have yet to beat any of the teams now holding a play-offs spot, have left themselves a mountain to climb after successive losses to Huddersfield Giants and St Helens.

“We are going to have to win a lot of games to progress up the table,” Smith admitted.

“It is a week to week opportunity; we weren’t happy with our execution last weekend so we are clearly looking to improve on that, while still applying the same effort and intensity to our game.”

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Though the top four are pulling away, the table is still relatively tight under that and Smith is predicting a rollercoaster ride over the final three months of the regular season, which could still give his side a chance.

He said: “You want competitiveness and that uncertainty as a fan of the game itself.

“When you sit down and watch a game you want to feel like it could go either way.

“That’s why the competition is going to have a lot of twists and turns in it, I believe, at the back end.”

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Hull began the year with high hopes and were 31-8 winners at Leeds in March, but have been hit badly by injuries and recently parted company with Australian stand-off Josh Reynolds.

Former Rhinos captain Luke Gale, who failed a head injury assessment during last week’s 4-0 loss at Warrington Wolves, is one of the players ruled out today.

Smith said: “I am expecting them to run hard and compete physically really hard.

“They will have some different combinations, I would imagine, in their spine, with a few injuries and things like that going on there, but we really need to focus on our own execution and application.

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“Improving that [was] a key priority earlier in the week and as the week’s gone on we’ve spent a bit more time on Hull.”

Rhinos can’t afford a repeat of last week when they had Zane Tetevano sent-off and Bodene Thompson and James Bentley sin-binned in the final 20 minutes of the defeat at St Helens.

Tetevano, Thompson and Harry Newman all begin suspensions today and Tom Holroyd and Muizz Musatapha remain banned.

Having five players unavailable for disciplinary reasons is a blow at a time when Rhinos have almost a clean bill of health, but Smith stressed: “It is always about who is going to be playing this week and moving forward.

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“We have got to learn our lessons from the situation, but we have got to move forward.

“That’s all I am focused on.

“Individually, conversations have been had, but as a team and a collective we have got to move forward.”