Paul Rowley breaks silence on Leeds Rhinos speculation following Rohan Smith departure

Ben Olawumi
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Salford Red Devils boss Paul Rowley continues to be linked with a move to Leeds Rhinos

Salford Red Devils boss Paul Rowley has spoken for the first time since Rohan Smith’s departure from Leeds Rhinos, addressing the speculation linking him with the vacant head coach role at Headingley.

Rowley has been a man of interest to Leeds for a number of months, with a sense of inevitability around the exit of Australian Smith, who departed the club earlier this week following a little over two years in charge.

The speculation only heightened when Salford’s Director of Rugby Ian Blease made the move to Headingley himself earlier this month, and the new Rhinos chief has already admitted Rowley will be someone they look into when it comes to Smith’s successor.

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Paul Rowley breaks silence on Leeds Rhinos speculation following Rohan Smith departure

49-year-old Rowley, who has been in charge of the Red Devils since the start of the 2022 season, has already declined one lucrative job offer this year from Hull FC.

And Salford are understandably keen to keep him, with the noise from the Greater Manchester outfit being that a new contract has been tabled his way, with the long-term vision of Rowley becoming their new Director of Rugby.

The ex-Leigh & Toronto Wolfpack boss appeared as a guest pundit on Sky Sports on Thursday evening for the Round 15 clash between Castleford Tigers & Hull KR, and was inevitably asked about the speculation linking him with a move to Headingley.

Addressing it, Rowley said: “I think they’ve got a big week ahead, they’ve got a big game tomorrow and a big occasion tomorrow, and I’ve got a big week myself preparing for St Helens.

“There’s been absolutely no contact with myself at all. You’ve done well there by getting 30 seconds out of a 20-minute interview (from a press conference with Blease earlier in the day), it’s a good selection!

“I don’t expect anything. It’s nice that I’m linked with any job, it’s a great privilege and an honour, but I don’t expect anything.

“I’m just looking forward to going training tomorrow.”

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‘The facts remain that there’s been no discussions… I’m fulfilled where I am at Salford’

Continuing the conversation, Sky host Brian Carney asked whether the location of Leeds played any factor, given it did in terms of logistics when Hull came calling.

Rowley responded: “They’re hypothetical questions because your first point – or first question – was ‘has there been any contact made?’

“The answer to that was, ‘no’, so I think it’s unhealthy to speculate on things that aren’t factual. It’s not good for me, healthy for me or for the group of lads that I represent.”

And he also agreed with the statement that he’d be Salford’s head coach for the remainder of this season, saying: “I’ve got no reason not to say it, it would be a strange thing not to be able to say that.

“Tomorrow’s a different day and the day after that’s a different day.

“I could pose the same questions at you, to the people filming us at this minute, that’s just life, isn’t it.

“The facts remain that there’s been no discussions and I’m committed to coaching my team against St Helens at the weekend.”

Blease’s influence on any possible move was mentioned to Rowley by pundit Jon Wilkin at the Jungle, and the Salford boss responded: ” Engineering a move, I don’t think that’s how Ian Blease works and it’s not how I work.

“With anything in life, it would be up front and honest and transparent. My motivation’s fulfilment, and I’m fulfilled where I am at Salford, I’ve got no dramas with that.”

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