Not a threat: Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith speaks out on sporting director role

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Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith says he fully supports the club’s decision to appoint a sporting director and does not see it as a threat to his position.

Rhinos are recruiting for the new role and hope to make an appointment early in June. The sporting director will have full responsibility for all rugby matters including recruitment and retention of players and staff.

Speaking at his weekly preview press conference today (Friday) Smith said the appointment will allow him to spend more time on coaching, rather than dealing with administration. He insisted: “I fully support that role.

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“It is one that has been spoken about a little bit, on and off, for a period of time. I know the club went that way in the past and it’s something plenty of other Super League clubs are doing.

Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

“The NRL clubs I’ve worked at have had a very similar role to that and the Premier League and most sports are doing that now. It makes a lot of sense.

“It is a big organisation and there’s a lot going on so I think it is a great thing to support me and the staff who work with the players each day. It will probably mean a little less time on processes and admin and behind the scenes-type stuff and that’ll allow me more time to be with the players and staff. That will only be beneficial to the club, I believe.”

Smith stressed he has spoken to chief executive Gary Hetherington about what the sporting director’s appointment will mean for the coach’s status at the club. He added: “It’s a complementary role to the coaching job.

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“It sits between the chief executive and the football operation. Myself and Matt Cook, as general manager, lead the Kirkstall division and we are going to have another person there to oversee that.

“I think it is a great decision by the board to seek a new appointment there. As an operation, Leeds Rhinos is only growing. The club have made it very clear they are going after somebody who is very experienced and prepared for such a job. It won’t be a rookie, it will be someone I can get support off and learn from and I can support them and work on the operation together.”

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