Leeds Rhinos exclusive: Rohan Smith relishing a ‘fresh start’ in 2024 as he details the key to success

George Riley
Rohan Smith Leeds RhinosRohan Smith Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith - Alamy

2024 represents a fresh start for Leeds Rhinos, with an emerging crop of local talent and a string of star signings creating a fresh reason for optimism at Headingley.

That’s the view of boss Rohan Smith who endured the frustration of missing out on the play-offs in 2023 having made the Super League Grand Final 12 months earlier.

Their first pre-season run out was a game of two halves on Boxing Day, mending an erratic first half performance to turn a 22-6 deficit into a comfortable 41-22 home win over relegated Wakefield Trinity.

Big-name recruits Andy Ackers, Lachlan Miller and Matt Frawley all produced promising debut displays, with Ackers in particular catching the eye following his close season move from Salford Red Devils.

With his former Red Devils team-mate Brodie Croft and NRL recruit Paul Momirovski still to come into the side, Leeds fans will feel confident that 2024 can hint at a return to form for a club so used to silverware.

Leeds Rhinos exclusive: Rohan Smith relishing a ‘fresh start’ in 2024 as he details the key to success

Smith told Love Rugby League that he is well aware of the demands of being Leeds’ head coach, in a year that he feels is a fresh start for him and his developing squad.

“The fans will be demanding success in 2024 and I think that every club does,” said Smith.

“No club wants success more than Leeds, but we have got a lot of work to do and will have to earn every thing we get.

“I feel like it is a bit of a fresh start this year, with a big change in key personnel to the group and an emerging English and Leeds core that are now somewhat experienced. It’s a fresh start, but we also know we have to get started quickly.”

Starting quickly was the opposite of what the Rhinos did on Boxing Day, as an inspired Wakefield put their rivals to the sword before half-time in their first outing under new boss Daryl Powell.

But led by young half-back Jack Sinfield who excelled in Croft’s absence, Leeds fired back with fellow youngsters Jack Smith and Tom Nicholson-Watton also scoring tries.

“We have a core of English players in our team who experienced some real highs and some lows last year, but they all stepped forward under pressure,” said Smith, who believes a difficult 2023 could actually prove an important part of his players’ development.

“Those guys are in a good position moving forward. The new players coming into our group have come here to do a specific role and they have started to do that really well so far.

“The next exciting part is that the players who haven’t really played yet or have only played a few games, those guys got started last year in a full-time environment, and there’s some good things ahead for them.”

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