Smith juggles his troops

Tony Smith has had to play the numbers game as he prepares his Hull KR squad to face in-form Salford Red Devils on Tuesday night.

A bruising 34-4 defeat to Catalans Dragons in Perpignan on Friday left the Robins coach with a simple head-count as he tries to deal with the demands of a rapid-fire fixture list as he pondered his 21-man squad to take on the Red Devils at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

“I’ve just told the team that I need eight, nine or ten players who are physically and mentally able to take on the challenge of our next game,” he said following the match at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

“We’ll get home at 1am and then I’ll start adding those names to some fresh bodies back home,” he added.
Re-jigged Rovers struggled to contain Catalans, but Smith said he was proud of his makeshift team’s effort in defeat.

“I can’t criticise our spirit, we worked hard but discipline was a real problem, we were 7-1 down on penalties at half-time and it’s difficult to win games like that.”

Rovers drafted in two debutants for the Dragons clash and Smith was full of praise for their contribution.

“Rowan Milnes had a couple of good touches and set up a nice try for Harvey Livett and George King had a solid stint for us, he was a willing worker,” added Smith.

“Crooksy (Ben Crooks) just ran out of legs. It’s a big ask for the kid in his first couple of games at full-back. Some people might not understand the demands of that position and he hasn’t played for a while so we need to build him up to that.

“We made some good in-roads early in the match but we failed to turn it into points. 22-0 at half-time is a tough ask and unfortunately we couldn’t come up with it. I thought our skill level wasn’t up to scratch after that.

“We’ll go out with spirit and motivation on Tuesday. The boys don’t lack motivation, we’re just not good enough at the moment. I’ve got every faith in them though.”

Smith has brought back Elliot Minchella and Dean Hadley into his squad, after Minchella was suspended for Friday’s game, while Hadley has missed the last three games, initially with an ankle problem and then through illness.

Robbie Mulhern also returns to the squad, despite suffering a concussion in training last week.
Ryan Brierley is also selected, but Harvey Livett, Owen Harrison, Nathaniel Peteru and Will Tate all drop out.

Hull KR squad: Ben Crooks, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kane Linnett, Jordan Abdull, Robbie Mulhern, Matt Parcell, Weller Hauraki, Dean Hadley, Mitch Garbutt, George Lawler, Kyle Trout, Mikey Lewis, Nick Rawsthorne, Matty Gee, Will Maher, Elliot Minchella, Matty Storton, Jamie Ellis, Ryan Brierley, Rowan Milnes, George King.

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