New Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith pledges 'shift' in style of play for Super League debut at Salford Red Devils

Fans will notice a change in the way Leeds Rhinos play when they begin their new era under Rohan Smith this weekend.

By Peter Smith
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 4:45 am

Leeds travel to Salford Red Devils on Sunday for the Australian coach’s first game in charge, 10 days after his first training session with the squad.

Smith admits team selection for the game will be a collaboration with his coaching staff, who were at the club under previous boss Richard Agar, but he is keen to put a new stamp on things from the off.

Rhinos have won their last two fixtures and Smith stressed: “Every result is always going to be important.

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Rohan Smith will coach Rhinos for the first time this weekend. Picture by Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWpix.com

“Certainly a positive performance on the back of previous ones prior to the break is something to build on.

“We are introducing a new spin on things in some aspects of how we play [and] it is important we get that integrated and started well.

“I think there will be a little shift there that is pretty visible to the fan and coach alike.”

Smith will name an initial 21-man squad on Friday.

Of his team selection for the game at AJ Bell Stadium, Smith insisted: “It hasn’t been too tricky.

“I’ve had lengthy discussions with the other coaches, those guys know the players better than I at this point in time so it has been a collaborative plan we’ve got in place.”

Smith, 41, had a season at the helm of Bradford Bulls and led Norths Devils to the Queensland Cup title last year, but this is his first spell in charge of an elite-level club.

“I’m very excited,” he admitted.

“It is something I have thought about for a long time, being in this position.

“I am eager to be part of something that means so much to so many people.

“That’s probably the thing that inspires me the most.”

As well as coaching, Smith has spent the past week getting a feel for his new surroundings and the people he is now working with.

He said: “It has been really enjoyable getting to know everyone and getting started.

“I’ve been getting around the staff and understanding who people are as people and also what their roles are and setting a bit of direction.

“We had a lengthy coaching discussion last Wednesday in preparation forThursday’s training session and this week’s build up to Salford.

“That was probably the first real coaching action.

“I could not have asked for a better welcome, particularly from the staff who I’ve spent the most amount of time with.

“They have been very receptive and helpful and we’ve come up with a collaborative approach to preparing for this week and Salford.”