Tony Smith delighted with Hull KR fitness and gives mixed verdicts on debutants

Tony Smith believes that many of his Hull KR players are fitter than ever after an impressive first pre-season runout last week.

Rovers put ten tries past Championship side Dewsbury Rams as last season’s Super League play-off semi-finalists made a strong first impression.

“We looked sharp, we weren’t plodding around,” said head coach Smith.

“Most of our movements were good, which is usually an indicator that we’re in good shape.

“We haven’t held back in our training and some of these guys are as fit as they’ve ever been.

“I could see that with some of their performances, so (they look) really good physically.”

Hull KR have one more pre-season game, at home to Huddersfield Giants this Sunday, before starting their league campaign two weeks later against Wigan Warriors.

“I think we’ll go pretty strong, as strong as we can,” Smith said of their approach to the Giants clash.

“We might have a few more back – Will Dagger might be available for us, Matty Parcell I think, maybe Dean Hadley as well.

“We probably won’t have as many young guys and as many on our bench.

“It’ll be fewer numbers. Some of our older guys who had an early shower (against Dewsbury) will probably play a bit longer next week.”

Four players made their debuts at the Rams, with Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e and Sam Wood scoring tries in impressive debuts.

“Phoenix just buzzed around everywhere, he read the game really well,” said the Rovers coach.

“Sam, I thought looked really strong, both at wing and in the centres, I thought he did some great stuff for us.”

However, forwards Tom Garratt and Greg Richards were disappointed with their showings off the bench, according to Smith.

“I think both of them got a little bit of a realisation of a step up,” he said.

“Even though they were playing against a Championship team, I think they felt like it was a step up again from how they’ve been playing and what’s expected of them.

“Both of them said that they would have liked to perform better.

“I’m really cool with that. Both of them will get to that at some stage soon.

“I don’t want them to be too harsh on themselves, but it’s good that they are going through that process.”

Meanwhile, Hull KR’s ground will have a new name next season after announcing Sewell Group as the naming rights partner from 2022 for what will now be Sewell Group Craven Park.

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