YEP Jury: Rohan Smith looks like he’s getting the best out of his Leeds Rhinos players

After the disappointment of the defeat at Salford in Rohan Smith’s first game in charge of Leeds, our panel of fans were impressed with the Rhinos’ comprehensive victory over Wakefield on Friday. Here are their thoughts:

By Mark Absolon
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 4:45 pm


Well, that was a much better performance on Friday night compared to the previous Sunday.

Near enough everything ran smoothly with new ways of attacking. Of course, there’s room to improve but it was hard to have a go with the weather conditions not being the best.

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Zak Hardaker (right) and James Bentley (other than his yellow card) impressed Leeds Rhinos fans in the wi over Wakefield Trinity last time out. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Blake Austin had a much better game working alongside Richie Myler in the halves which might be the future of our attack with Zak Hardaker having a brilliant game at full-back and looking like he enjoyed being back at Headingley.

Rohan Smith should definitely have him in that position until the end of the season, creating chances for both Ash Handley and Dave Fusitu’a who, I thought, had his best game for us this season.

We do need to give him time to develop as he will grow around that squad of players, especially with the way he drives forward and gains yards for the team.

This weekend is the Challenge Cup final. I would have loved the Rhinos to be there but, unfortunately, we didn’t make it.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith had to wait a week for his first win and now looks to have the players playing as he wants if the performance against Wakefield Trinity is anything to go by. Picture: John Clifton/

At the weekend, for once, I’ll be rooting for Huddersfield Giants. I think all Rhinos fans will be rooting for the Yorkshire club.


Let the good times roll. Leeds put in the 80-minute shift we have been waiting for.

The women’s team set the tone with their demolition of Huddersfield at Headingley.

Try scorer Blake Austin - playing alongside Richie Myler - had one of his better games for Leeds Rhinos in the win over Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Heavy rain helped create early errors for both sides. James Bentley, looking to make up for lost time, opened the scoring, his first try for Leeds. The wet weather couldn’t dampen the South Stand’s enthusiasm and, when Bentley scored his second, the atmosphere rose again.

At 12-0 up, Bentley received a yellow for going in high. He might want to consider a parking permit at the RFL judiciary; as he has picked up another ban.

Wakefield hit back with a try, testing the defence up to half-time. In the second half, the Loiners took control, Blake Austin making it safe, scoring with 11 minutes left.

David Fusitu’a put the icing on the cake with a well-worked try in the corner on the hooter – right in front of my dad.

Rohan Smith had Leeds playing a high-tempo game, tightened up their errors, indiscipline and, with three wins in the last four matches, this group is more than capable of fulfilling early-season optimism.


Last week felt like the wind had been taken out of sails after a disappointing result at Salford, especially after everyone involved with the club came into the game with such optimism.

But I think nearly all of the fans will be happy with a return of seven out of a possible 12 points since the home loss to St Helens.

Watching the game, you are starting to see the style of play that Rohan Smith is trying to drill into the players.

It’s a bit back to basics with hard running and solid defence but it’s a winning formula.

You see more of it in the NRL with teams looking for a high-completion percentage.

That was probably James Bentley’s best game in a Leeds shirt after crashing over for two tries and, as ever, working hard in defence.

However, picking up another yellow card isn’t ideal as he will have to serve a three-match ban.

It looked horrible at first but, if you take a closer look, it seems that he hit the Wakefield player around the chest and his arm looked to have bounced up from the ball.


First win under Rohan Smith? Completed it.

It was a great win at Headingley on Friday as we beat Wakefield Trinity in a third-straight victory on home territory.

It’s a shame we now have so many away games, but we are on the move, we’ll look up and, hopefully, move up the table in the process.

With that win, we have given ourselves a bit of a gap between where we are and the bottom two, a gap of three points. That’s important.

James Bentley had a good game Friday, despite his yellow card.

He’s almost spent more time suspended than he actually has on the season this season, but he played well against Trinity, scoring the first two tries.

Plus, it was nice to see Zak Hardaker back at Headingley putting in a man-of-the-match performance for the Rhinos.

Moving on to next weekend, we have a tough game against Warrington but they’re struggling themselves and we could definitely build on from our first game of the season and beat them on their own turf.

Let’s see how that goes!


Leeds produced the performance Rohan Smith expected against Salford, but just had to wait until a week later.

The Rhinos put in a solid and disciplined performance against a very poor Wakefield team.

The downpour in the warm-up before kick-off didn’t help the situation but the Rhinos played the conditions much better than Wakefield.

I thought Zak Hardaker had a brilliant game at full-back and really showed the quality we have been missing.

It will be an interesting scenario when Jack Walker returns as to who will play at full-back.

Also, to think Morgan Gannon is only 18 years of age is terrifying. He was absolutely superb and is a player the Rhinos will need to keep hold of for years to come.

James Bentley had his best game in the blue and amber … besides his yellow card (again).

Another week off and Warrington away next for the Rhinos. Daryl Powell’s men probably put their best performance in against the Saints so will not be short of confidence.

It’s the first ‘big game’ under Smith so he’ll be looking for the lads to put a shift in.


With a comprehensive win over Wakefield under Leeds’ belt last Friday and with a suspension in domestic hostilities, all eyes turn to the Challenge Cup final in London on Saturday, between Wigan and Huddersfield.

Yet again, the final has been devalued by the leaking of a discount code intended for key workers, meaning any fans could apply for essentially free tickets for the final.

Ticket prices for the final, set by the RFL, are high, perhaps too high, given the game could do with selling the stadium out, and these are difficult times for many in the game’s traditional fanbase.

I’ve always thought that the sport’s prestigious games – the Challenge Cup final, the Grand Final, Internationals, World Cup etc – should be incentivised.

The earlier you book, the cheaper they should be and then, with discounts similar to the half-price Magic Weekend tickets, given to loyal fans of the two finalists.

Why should I ‘support’ the wider game by buying early when, if I hold off, the RFL panics and starts offering tickets that undercut what I’ve paid, as the final approaches?

A few years ago, there were hugely-discounted prices to the Johnny-Come-Latelys via Groupon and I’ve been to finals where free tickets were handed out on the day.

We all know RFL ‘marketing’ is shambolic at best and I hope the recent tie-up with IMG gets the game back on some sort of professional footing soon.