Tony Smith set for surprise return to rugby league with Hull KR

Former Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith will take charge of Hull Kingston Rovers for the remainder of this season.

Smith, who left Warrington at the end of the 2017 campaign following a successful reign in charge of the Wolves – where he won numerous Challenge Cup titles, as well as the League Leaders’ Shield – has been out of the game for 18 months, and has been working in football since his exit from the Wire.

However, he will now replace Tim Sheens – who League Express revealed had been sacked earlier in the week – and is immediately tasked with guiding the Robins away from the foot of the Super League table.

“It’s a great opportunity for myself to get back in and start coaching again. I’ve had a good break and I’m very excited to be working with the talent available at Rovers,” he said.

“I’m keen to get on board with the players and understand where they’re at and see where I can help them. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for myself, but I’m very excited about the opportunity.

“I want to help the players to be as good as they can be both individually and as a team. I want to instil some confidence in areas where it’s needed and practice in those areas too. With the talent available, there’s a good, strong chance of climbing the ladder to a place which is far greater to where we are at this moment. I’m looking forward to that journey and development of players.

“I’ve had a lot of experience over the years at all the clubs that I’ve been at, where they haven’t been in ideal situations when I’ve taken over. They ended up in strong positions once I left and I look forward to doing exactly that in this period of time.

“There’s a lot of players that I admire within the team, what they do, but it’s now up to me to get the best out of them, as well as getting the best out of one another. That’s what a team is about. I want to get the boys in a position where they’re proud of what they’re producing and I think we can do that quickly.”

Smith has not worked in rugby league since leaving Warrington, and had been employed as a consultant for the League Managers’ Association in the world of football.

However, he will now be in charge for Sunday’s huge game against defending champions Wigan – a game which could see Rovers end the weekend joint-bottom of the Super League table should results go against them.

The move sees Smith link up with his former half-back at Leeds Rhinos, Danny McGuire. Together, the pair won the Super League title with the Rhinos in 2004 – though it is not yet clear whether Smith will be coach in 2020, when McGuire moves into an off-field role as the club’s head of recruitment.