Leeds Rhinos reaction: Coach Rohan Smith frustrated after defeat at Salford Red Devils

Harsh lessons will be learned from Leeds Rhinos’ 23-8 defeat at Salford Red Devils, coach Rohan Smith has pledged.

By Peter Smith
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 7:57 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th May 2022, 7:59 pm

Rhinos failed to come up with the goods in the Australian’s first game in charge, suffering their second loss in as many visits to AJ Bell Stadium this year.

A 26-12 setback in March ended Richard Agar’s reign as coach and Smith’s began with defeat by a one-point greater margin on the same ground.

Smith had 10 days to prepare his team for the game and said, despite the result, it was good to see them live in a match situation, rather than on tape or in training.

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Rohan Smith on the sideline at Salford. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.

“It is a difficult perspective, seeing how people communicate with each other and their body language, I think, is a really important thing for coaches to observe,” he said afterwards.

“It was good to get an insight there; seeing how individuals handle those moments was helpful, moving forward.”

Though he appeared calm throughout the game, Smith admitted to being “a little frustrated at times” with his side’s performance.

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Salford Red Devils 23 Leeds Rhinos 8

He reflected : “I thought we let ourselves down in some critical moments defensively and offensively we weren’t able to build enough pressure.

“I am not too sure why, that’s about getting to know the players and speaking to them individually as we go forward and seeing how they think, what they are thinking about with their decision-making.

“It is too soon for me to know exactly why people made those mistakes.

“In attack, particularly, it wasn’t through lack of effort, it was lack of execution.”

Rhinos conceded four tries and Smith noted: “There was a little lack of trust on a few occasions, where we turned in and didn’t need to.

“That obviously created opportunities for the opposition.

“There was one try where there were a few deflections.

“They happen sometimes, but we have been working on a few defensive things that are a little different to previously and they will continue to be worked on.

“There was no thought that we were going to play a perfect game, by any means.”

Of what positives he could take from the game, Smith said: “I thought we defended well in the second half, overall.

“It was a hard-fought second half in particular.

“Also, the return of a bunch of players; we had five or six who hadn’t played for anywhere between a month and 10-12 weeks.

“Credit to the performance staff that those guys played big minutes and got through unscathed.”

The defeat moved Leeds down below Salford into 10th place on the Betfred Super League table, one point ahead of Friday’s visitors Wakefield Trinity and three above bottom side Toulouse Olympique.

That makes this week’s game a four-pointer, but Smith stressed what happened yesterday “doesn’t count for next week”.

He said: “It’s a matter of learning some stuff from it, reviewing it and building some focus areas as we move forward to Wakefield.”

That would have been the same even had Rhinos won, according to Smith.

“It will never be a finished product,” he added.

“My team last year [Norths Devils], we won the Grand Final and we were talking on the bus home after the Grand Final about how we were going to play better.

“That’s how I am and who I am; the result always matters, but the performance and improvement is something we will be chasing forever.”