Rohan Smith defends Harry Newman amid questions over Leeds Rhinos future: ‘He cares a lot and wants to do his best’

Josh McAllister
Harry Newman, Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith has defended star centre Harry Newman after Sky Sports pundits sparked debate over his future at the club.

Sky Sports lead Brian Carney asked if the Super League side should look to sell the 23-year-old upon completion of the 2023 campaign following the humiliating 61-0 defeat to Catalans.

Newman was sin-binned late on in the penultimate round for a professional foul on Sam Tomkins, although boss Smith questioned the decision.

His discipline and attitude has been a hot topic in 2023, with Leeds Live previously reporting that he had to be pulled away from team-mate Tom Holroyd in a post-match bust-up following the 22-12 defeat at home to Salford.

England boss Shaun Wane admitted last week that Newman would not make his 24-man squad as things stand to face Tonga, warning the star to sort his on-field behaviour.

He is contracted until the end of 2024, but Smith believes Newman’s heart is in the right place and still has a bright future at the club.

The Round 26 result in Perpignan ended any chance of a play-off finish for the Rhinos, as well as several unwanted records including the first back-to-back nilling since 1991.

Smith said he had not heard of any comments following the heavy defeat, with Hull legend Paul Cooke and Leeds legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan also involved in the conversation on Saturday evening.

Rohan Smith backs Harry Newman for bright future

Smith said: “He’s shown in that game [against Catalans] his actual demeanour and behaviour towards everyone involved, players, referees.

“He was very mature and probably the best he has been.

“He’s made some real progress in the last couple of months.

“He cares a lot and demonstrates that care sometimes different to how others do. He shows some of his frustrations but that kid tries hard and wants to do his best.

“He’s learning. He’s got a big future and what’s happening outside of our walls, that’s for those people to make comment.

“I think our priority is to get Harry in the team and playing as well as he can then he can showcase all his abilities.

“Harry and I have a very good relationship and he has a good relationship with his team-mates. Like all of us, he has some stuff to improve on.”

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