Rohan Smith on Leeds win, Grand Final, Harry Newman & Aidan Sezer

Rohan Smith Leeds Rhinos

Leeds coach Rohan Smith said he always had the belief in his side as they stunned 12-man Wigan to reach their first Grand Final in five years.

The Rhinos were peppered by Wigan’s electric attack in the first half, but some impressive goal-line defence managed to only see Leeds trail 4-2 at the break.

Smith’s men found their mojo in the second half and tries from Jarrod O’Connor and James Bentley (2) helped the Rhinos secure a stunning 20-8 victory which booked their place at Old Trafford next Saturday.

“I was not at all worried,” Smith said of his side being on the back foot in the first half. “It’s part of the game.

“I feel there is belief in the group that we could find our way through it.

“Our goal-line defence has been very good for a period of time now. There is a lot of trust and belief. Everyone was calm and relaxed and doing their job.

“Everybody felt good about themselves going in at 4-2.”

Aidan Sezer passes his HIA

Influential half-back Sezer was forced to leave the field in the 50th minute after being the victim of a high and late tackle by Wigan forward John Bateman.

Sky Sports revealed during the game that he had failed his HIA – but that wasn’t the case. The Australian did pass his HIA and could play at Old Trafford next week.

“We haven’t spoken to the doctor yet,” Smith said. “I’m trying to enjoy it for a few minutes. We’ll talk about Aidan on the way home.”

JJB: Jamie Jones-Buchanan leaving coaching role – but stays with Leeds

Rohan Smith proud to reach Old Trafford

A first trip to the Grand Final since 2017 caps an incredible turnaround for Leeds, who were in the bottom four when Smith arrived earlier this year.

“I came not knowing a lot, but I knew enough to know there was a good group of players and a good group of people,” Smith added.

“I’m really proud and privileged to be part of it. Now the dust is settling, we’re starting to think about next week a bit.”

Smith confirmed that England World Cup hopeful Harry Newman will not be fit to play in the Grand Final. Wingers Ash Handley and David Fusitu’a remain doubtful.

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About Drew Darbyshire 8319 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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