19 Jun 2024

Leeds Rhinos statement

Leeds Rhinos have agreed by mutual consent that Head Coach Rohan Smith will step down with immediate effect.

Smith joined the Rhinos in April 2022 and steered the club to the Super League Grand Final in his first year having agreed a deal until the end of the 2025 season.

Smith joined the Rhinos from Norths Devils having worked with a host of NRL clubs throughout his coaching career of over 20 years including New Zealand Warriors, Sydney Roosters and Penrith Panthers. He was also Head Coach of Bradford Bulls in 2016.

The Rhinos missed out on the play offs last season and last Saturday lost their seventh game of this season leaving them currently outside of the play off positions albeit just four points off the top four in the most competitive Super League season for years.

Commenting on the decision, Smith said, “I had always stated that it was a long term project to establish a team that will be able to have sustainable success, and I believe that we have assembled a roster that can continue to push for a 2024 playoff spot, the supporters can get behind the boys and give them their support.

“Friday will be a special night for the club and we wanted to remove the ongoing coaching speculation and distraction. Celebrating Rob’s life, the great work done by the club and Kev for the MND community and playing well is the focus for Friday. I believe this team can still achieve great things and I am proud of the work that the coaching team have done to develop players, especially the next generations. Unfortunately, I will not be Head Coach to see this development continue but I look forward to watching the clubs future successes and wish everyone at the club all the best for the future,” added Smith.

Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, “It is always disappointing to lose a Head Coach especially someone like Rohan, who has done so much good work behind the scenes since his arrival two years ago. At that point we were sat near the foot of the table but he re-invigorated us to reach the Grand Final with an incredible run of form. However, it is fair to say the Rhinos results and performances this season have not met all our expectations to get us back to where we want to be. The Board has a long term strategy for where we want the club to be in the future, which started with the appointment of Ian Blease as our first Sporting Director. Ian is now carefully considering our options moving forward before making his recommendations to the Board.

“On behalf of everyone at the Rhinos, I would like to thank Rohan for his dedication and hard work as Head Coach. It is rare to meet a coach who is so passionate about Rugby League, at all levels, as Rohan and personally, having brought Rohan and his young family over to England, it is sad that his time at the club has not brought the success I know he so much desired and we both believed possible at the outset,” added Hetherington.

Sporting Director Ian Blease added, “Whilst I have only arrived at the club recently, I have seen from my meetings with the rugby staff and players how well respected Rohan is. We must manage this change carefully so the players can focus fully on their performances, starting this Friday against Leigh.

“My review of our rugby operation is ongoing and, clearly, the scope of those recommendations will now need to widen with Rohan’s departure. That process starts now to appoint a new Head Coach who we believe will be talented and suitable to take the club into a new era. Assistant Coaches Chev Walker and Scott Grix will take the final training session of the week on Thursday and will be in charge on Friday night against Leigh. We then have no game next week for the International break so that will allow us to plan further into the future.”

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