Rohan Smith has been reassured his position as the Leeds coach is secure by Gary Hetherington – but the Rhinos chief executive has also admitted there are some aspects of their 2023 season so far he “hoped” would have been better.
The Rhinos are about to enter the business end of the season, having overcome what appeared a dodgy patch of form. Indeed, their season hit a new nadir when they were beaten 24-14 by basement boys Wakefield Trinity, who had been described by one pundit as “the worst Super League team of all time”.
That led to some speculation surrounding Smith’s future at Headingley, amid claims his position at the helm was coming under scrutiny.
However, Smith and his players used the misery of that performance at Belle Vue as fuel.
And since then, three successive wins has got them on track, with their improvement kickstarted by a massive 54-0 thumping of Huddersfield Giants at Headingley.
Their resurgence could see Leeds move back into the top six with a win over Hull KR on Friday night.
Now Hetherington, in a question and answer sessions with the Yorkshire Evening Post, has offered his opinion on the season so far.
And while he has praised some “outstanding performances”, he has outlined a couple of regrets.
“We are disappointed to be out of the Challenge Cup and sitting seventh on the Betfred Super League ladder,” Hetherington said.
“After winning through to last year’s Grand Final, we expected and hoped to have been more consistent. We’ve had some outstanding performances and results, especially against the top performing teams, but too many disappointing defeats too.”
Rohan Smith handed Leeds Rhinos job guarantees
“But it’s a long season with the most crucial phase ahead of us. And, as we know from past experience, it’s how you finish that counts.”
Turning attention to Smith, the Rhinos chief is adamant the Aussie will have a long and successful reign at Headingley.
Asked if he was happy with the 42-year-old’s year in charge so far, Hetherington gave a solid response.
“Rohan has delivered everything we hoped for,” he said. “His appointment is for the long-term and he plays a key role in all aspects of our rugby operation.
“He joined us part way through last season. And his immediate task was to improve staff, player and team performances and results, and this he did extremely well.
“At the same time, he also had to assess the qualities of all players and staff. He will make key decisions on retention and recruitment for 2023 and beyond.”
The Rhinos are preparing to invest in their squad again during the off-season. To that end, Hetherington wants to ensure the side continue their upward momentum.
With that in mind, Hetherington has given Smith assurances over their transfer plans.