Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith on the importance of his family and what’s behind his run to the Betfred Super League Grand Final; watch this year’s Finals between Leeds and St Helens on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event from 5pm on Saturday (6pm start)
Last updated: 09/21/22 2:49 pm
When looking at his phone after Leeds Rhinos won a spot in this year’s Betfred Super League Final with a 20-8 win over Wigan Warriors, the first congratulatory text Rohan Smith noticed was from his home country of Australia.
Those are the words of his father, Brian, a man who has had an extensive coaching career both on these shores and in his homeland, tells his son how proud he is of what he has accomplished. achieved in just five months of taking over as head coach Rhinos.
Then there was the phone call to his wife shortly after the final game at DW Stadium, who will be there at Old Trafford on Saturday with their children to watch Leeds meet St Helens in the match. Super League, live on Sports sky.
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Whether it’s his father’s lessons in life and the rugby league, or the support of his spouse, Smith has always put family first in everything he does.
“The first message I saw when I looked at my phone after the game was from my dad and he was so proud,” Smith said, recalling the aftermath of last Friday’s semi-final win over Wigan. .
“He has had a huge impact on so many coaches who have succeeded through the Super League and I am one of them. I am grateful for the opportunities he has given me in terms of background, as well as education. about sports and life.
“We’ve been on the journey for a long time and we’ve been fortunate enough to do some great things together as a family.
“My family is a part of what goes on every day around my work, and it would be nice to have them there on a Saturday night.”
Not surprisingly, much has been made of the change Rhinos has undergone since Smith took the helm at Headingley in May, having risen from one of the 10-round relegation contenders during the season. regular tournament to stand 80 minutes from the first league title since 2017.
For his part, Smith recorded wins over Toulouse Olympique and Hull Kingston Rovers under the supervision of current assistants Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Sean Long at the end of April, just before his arrival as kick-off time. Rhinos’ revival.
But those who have worked with him on a daily basis are certain that he has brought a new approach from which the team is reaping many benefits.
“He came in and added his own points in the team and maybe he just softened the situation as well,” said Leeds center Liam Sutcliffe.
He allows people to express themselves and play what they see, and I think you can see players that really thrive with what he buys.
Liam Sutcliffe on Rohan Smith’s influence at Leeds
“There was a bit of anxiety at the start of the year with things not going well, and he added real calm to the team as well as the things he wanted us to do on the pitch.
“Obviously everyone bought it, and you can see that in our performances since he arrived, it’s amazing.
“He allows people to express themselves and play what they see, and I think you can see the players really thrive with what he buys.”
Smith’s approach is oriented around fostering a sense of team unity while taking a gradual approach to changing things from observation rather than just imposing any preconceived ideas right away. since he walked through the door.
“I was focused on stepping in and being myself, but also being aware of what the team needed from me,” says Smith.
“There were some aspects of how we played and interacted around where I felt strong and spoke my mind pretty quickly.
“The biggest theme is about being together: playing together, defending together, attacking together and that has a different look to each team.
“There isn’t one way to do it, but we evolved a bit and it started the way I thought it would.”
Saturday will mark the second year in a row Smith has entered a Finals, although on a much larger scale than the Queensland Cup decider, he coached the Norths Devils to a 16-10 win over Wynnum Manly Seagulls last year.
The 41-year-old has competed in the NRL Finals during his stints with the New Zealand Warriors and Sydney Roosters coaching staff, and is now excited to lead Rhinos into a Super League game against the defending champions. champion St Helens and an old Queensland Cup. rival head coach at Kristian Woolf.
“It’s not like any other place, the Grand Final, even going to the park,” Smith said. “It’s a special thing to culminate on the last day of the season where everyone wants to be on the pitch when the season starts.
“Fortunately, we are there.”