Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith in dreamland as Hetherington delivers big promise on transfers

James Marshment
Rohan Smith Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith

Rohan Smith has been told Leeds Rhinos are “building a team capable of challenging for silverware” with a transfer pledge being made by chief executive Gary Hetherington over incoming new signings.

The Rhinos have endured a disappointing campaign to date, currently sat in seventh place having won nine and lost nine of their 18 games so far. And while they remain in with a solid chance of qualifying for the play-offs, they would have hoped to have been far higher than they currently are.

In addition, their exit from the Challenge Cup at the sixth-round stage to Wigan has shut down one of their major trophy avenues.

Furthermore, a mid-season blip saw some question marks being raised over Smith’s future at Headingley.

However, Rhinos have emphatically rediscovered their form in recent weeks. And three victories in a row has seemingly got Leeds’ season back on track.

Next up is a home date against Hull KR at Headingley on Friday night. A fourth successive win can lift Leeds into the top six.

Rhinos have not finished higher than fifth since 2017, so Smith and Co now have an obvious target to aim for.

And, in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post, Hetherington has scoffed at claims that Rhinos are no longer a force in the game.

“The Rhinos team enjoyed so much success for nearly 15 years. And the transition period after 2017 was always going to be a challenging one,” he began.

“It’s fair to say, we’ve not enjoyed as much success as we’d hoped for in the last five years…

“But, apart from St Helens, I don’t think any other Super League team can claim to have been a leading force too.”

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Hetherington promises more Leeds Rhinos signings

The Rhinos invested into their squad over the off-season, particularly in rising youngsters. However, Hetherington is adamant the side is far from the finished product.

And, in a pledge that will be music to Smith’s ears, he insists further funds will be provided.

When asked by the YEP if money is there for new recruits, Hetherington answered: “Yes, of course. Building a squad capable of challenging for silverware doesn’t happen overnight and is currently a ‘work in progress’.

“It started again with Rohan’s appointment last May. He inherited a first-team squad of players and a rugby staff department. The latter has changed significantly, and Rohan has been at the heart of those changes.

“And the playing squad is undergoing changes too. Next season, it will be very much the one Rohan has created.

“The Rhinos philosophy of developing and promoting our own players to create a group of core players is very much to fore and talented youngsters like Jarrod O’Connor, Max Simpson and Jack Sinfield have all recently extended their contracts.

“Other more experienced players like Ash Handley, Cameron Smith, Justin Sangare, Sam Lisone and Nene Macdonald have also extended.  And new signing Mickael Goudemand, from Catalans Dragons, will add valuable experience.

“We still have a number of out of contract players and possible new recruits and whilst nothing has appeared in the media recently, I can assure all our fans, lots is going on behind the scenes.”

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