'Never a dull moment': Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith reflects on year in Headingley hot seat

Leeds Rhinos are in a better place now than they were when he was appointed coach a year ago, Rohan Smith says.
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Rhinos unveiled Smith as their new team boss, on a contract until the end of 2025, on April 20, 2022.

At that stage they were 11th in Betfred Super League with just one win and a draw from 10 competitive games.

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Under Smith, Rhinos rose to finish fifth in the table - winning 11 of their 16 games following his arrival at the start of May - before a run to the Grand Final where they were beaten by St Helens.

Rohan Smith, left with then-team manager Jason Davidson, arrives at Salford for his first game as Leeds coach on May 15 last year. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.Rohan Smith, left with then-team manager Jason Davidson, arrives at Salford for his first game as Leeds coach on May 15 last year. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.
Rohan Smith, left with then-team manager Jason Davidson, arrives at Salford for his first game as Leeds coach on May 15 last year. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.

They have won five and lost four of their Super League games this term and go into round 10 sitting sixth in the table.

Ten players who were on the books when he arrived have moved on, with nine coming in for this season.

“It has gone fast, but I feel like it has been a productive journey,” Smith said of his 12 months in the hot seat.

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“As I’ve said before, the club was in a good place when I arrived and I think we are in a better place now.

Rohan Smith, pictured after the recent win over Huddersfield, was appointed RFhinos coach onApril 20, 2022. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Rohan Smith, pictured after the recent win over Huddersfield, was appointed RFhinos coach onApril 20, 2022. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Rohan Smith, pictured after the recent win over Huddersfield, was appointed RFhinos coach onApril 20, 2022. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“We’ve built on what came before. There was a solid roster there and solid junior players and we’ve given them a bit of an opportunity.

“Things are trending in the right direction, but we’ve got a lot to do and this weekend against Leigh is a very big game for us, we feel.”

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Caretaker-coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan remained in charge for two games before Smith landed in England and the Australian former North Devils boss reflected: “I judge things from the day I arrived, but the work definitely started before I got here.

Rhinos went from second-bottom in Super League to the Grand Final during Rohan Smith's first season in charge. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Rhinos went from second-bottom in Super League to the Grand Final during Rohan Smith's first season in charge. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Rhinos went from second-bottom in Super League to the Grand Final during Rohan Smith's first season in charge. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
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“A lot has happened with performances and the roster. It is hard to look back; when you review each week so comprehensively and thoroughly and you spend a lot of time trying to improve on last week, it is hard to reflect on the whole way.

“But there’s never been a dull moment, there’s always something going on. In those early periods it was the judiciary and recruitment and retention stuff, then we went on a bit of a run towards the play-offs and did well. “Then the pre-season starts and it’s Boxing Day all of a sudden.”

Smith arrived at a club in the middle of what proved to be a season-long injury crisis, but things have improved significantly this year and he could field an unchanged side at Leigh Leopards on Friday.

Smith will select from the 17 who beat Hull FC a week earlier, plus James Bentley, who missed out with a groin problem, Sam Walters, Jack Sinfield and Luis Roberts.

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Aidan Sezer did not feature in the second-half last week, after suffering a knock to the head and ankle problem and Smith said: “James Bentley is in the picture, for sure. Otherwise, we have been playing reasonably well over a period of time, I feel, with a couple of little hic-ups along the way.

“There won’t be a lot of changes this week, We’ve got a couple of niggles to check over, who will likely be okay, before we finalise our team. Aidan fully trained [on Wednesday] and was really sharp. He has had a pretty good week of prep’ generally.”