LEEDS RHINOS were a team that severely underperformed in Super League 2023.
Finishing outside the play-offs despite reaching the Super League Grand Final in 2022, the Rhinos looked a shadow of their former selves at times.
However, from a number of serious injuries to mid-season departures, it’s fair to say that head coach Rohan Smith had a lot to contend with last season.
On the whole, Smith has tried to explain what went wrong for the Rhinos in 2023 with a lot going on behind the scenes – some of which was never made public.
“There was a bit that didn’t go our way last season! I’ve said to our players and staff I think last year happened for us and not to us,” Smith told League Express.
“You can never predict what goes on in a season – not very often anyway. There were more things that popped up than you could imagine and a lot more things that never went public.
“We got a lot of experience amongst our key players that we are moving forward and we embraced some tough moments. They all grew out of it and that’s the real lesson out of it.”
Smith does insist, though, that the Rhinos were difficult to beat in 2023 and he is keen to carry that mentality into 2024.
“We were hard to beat throughout last year and if we can have that mentality but have a bit more flow and cohesion as a group I think we will be harder to beat this year.
“There certainly seems to be more of that cohesion, there’s a good friendship and teamwork being built in how we’ve gone about things.
“The existing players have really welcomed the new players into the group and the new players have been brought into a role that they fully knew they would be filling.
“They have all fit in quite seamlessly, they are getting along despite having different personalities which is really important in those spine positions.
“The key part is the flow of our team and so far it is heading in the right direction.”
Of course, the new signings include: Andy Ackers (Salford Red Devils), Brodie Croft (Salford Red Devils), Matt Frawley (Canberra Raiders), Mickael Goudemand (Catalans Dragons), Kieran Hudson (Castleford Tigers), Lachie Miller (Newcastle Knights), Paul Momirovski (Sydney Roosters).
But, could there be any more through the door at Headingley?
“There is some space for the right people and the right player as and when we need,” Smith concluded.
League Express is widely available from local newsagents across the north of England.