Rohan Smith backed to continue Leeds Rhinos progress by Jamie Jones-Buchanan

Rohan Smith will officially become Leeds Rhinos coach this week when he arrives on Tuesday, with one of his first tasks to check out the Headingley treatment room.

The new Australian coach, who takes the reins with the Rhinos up to ninth in Super League after beating Hull KR 14-0 at Headingley to record a second successive win, has a blank weekend before the big trip to Salford on Friday week, May 15.

That’s after Leeds’ Challenge Cup sixth-round elimination at the hands of Castleford, one of eight defeats in twelve matches (seven in eleven in the league) so far this season.

The last six, starting with that knockout blow by the Tigers at Headingley, have been under the control of Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

The former Leeds forward will remain on the staff as Smith, who has a three-and-a-half-year contract, tries to resurrect a club who have been Super League champions eight times, but not since 2017.

Smith, who has switched from Queensland Cup team North Devils, will be able to call on forwards James Bentley and Zane Tetevano, who have now completed two-match suspensions.

But newly-signed fullback Zak Hardaker is having tests after suffering a seizure, which prevented him making the first appearance of his second spell at the club against Hull KR.

And under treatment for injuries are backs Tom Briscoe (ankle), David Fusitu’a (knee), Richie Myler (groin), Harry Newman (hamstring), Aidan Sezer (groin), Liam Sutcliffe (knee), Jack Walker (hamstring) and forwards Tom Holroyd (ankle) and Corey Johnson (knee).

Matt Prior and Morgan Gannon scored tries while Rhyse Martin kicked two goals as Leeds beat a Hull KR side that wasted a string of chances.

“They have got there through hard work and sheer effort and tipping into each other, working exceptionally hard from Monday to Friday and turning up on Friday night to do what’s important,” said Jones-Buchanan.

“I knew it would come to fruition.

“When Rohan, someone who has very similar values to myself, gets here, he will pick it up and kick it on and those boys can go as far as they want. There is no ceiling.”

Reflecting on his time as interim coach, Jones-Buchanan added: “I’ve really enjoyed myself. It’s been the most enlightening month of my life.

“I’ve learned so much and it’s only helped me in my development. Rohan texted me and I’ve texted him back, saying ‘they’re all yours and they’re ready for it as well’.”

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