Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos: Cameron Smith revelling in ‘fresh start’

FOLLOWING A two-week break, loose-forward Cameron Smith says Sunday’s game at Salford Red Devils is a fresh start for Leeds Rhinos.

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

Back-to-back wins over Toulouse Olympique and Hull KR lifted Rhinos two places to fourth from bottom in Betfred Super League and new coach Rohan Smith will take charge for the first time this weekend.

Performances, as well as results, have improved since Rhinos’ last visit to Salford two months ago and, with players beginning to return from long-term injuries, Cameron Smith is upbeat about what could be achieved over the remainder of the year.

“I am excited now and ready to rip in for the rest of the season,” said Smith, who has played 10 times so far.

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Cameron Smith in recent action for Leeds Rhinos against Toulouse Olympique. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

He insisted: “It almost feels like the season has started again now.

“We have a chance to have almost like a fresh start and, fingers crossed, it all goes well.”

The back-rower described the long gap between games, since the 12-0 victory over Hull KR 13 days ago, as “the perfect chance to freshen up”.

He said: “The lads have been able to get some sun and get away from the tough spells we’ve had.

Coach Rohan Smith takes charge of Leeds Rhinos for the first time at Salford Red Devils. Picture: Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/

“I think it was important we left on a win, as well and that really did us some good.

“The two wins have put us in good stead to start climbing the table now and the boys have come back really mentally fresh and ready to rip in with Rohan’s new ideas and philosophies.”

The new boss took his first training session last Thursday, giving him 10 days to prepare the team for Sunday.

And his playing namesake said he has been “really impressed” with what he has seen so far.

“Not just in the footy side of things,” he said.

“Obviously he is an exceptional coach, but just how he is as a person; he has really got the respect of the lads already.

“The way he is speaking to people and his presence in meetings is really good.”

This is a crucial part of the season with Rhinos playing the teams immediately below them in the table in their next two matches.

After Sunday, they play host to Wakefield Trinity five days later and wins in both games would leave them looking up towards the top six, rather than down to the relegation battle.

Smith, though, insisted: “I am not sure about looking too far ahead; we have got to take it game by game.

“We are not getting carried away; our focus now is purely on Salford and nothing else.

“We will get a game plan together and focus on getting a result this weekend, rather than where we could be in a couple of weeks’ time.”

The atmosphere around the camp, however, is much better now than a month ago.

“I think the biggest thing for us as a group is to take that pressure off and not be chasing wins,” Smith said.

“We just have to focus on us and know results will come when we are at our best.”

Rohan Smith’s first game in charge is a rematch of a painful 26-12 defeat in March which led to Richard Agar’s resignation as head coach.

Salford have not won since and Cameron Smith reckons Rhinos have a point to prove.

“They pipped us in the end,” he recalled.

“It was just one of those fixtures we had early on where we are ahead the whole game, then let it slip.

“Hopefully it is a good chance to put the wrongs right.”