Rohan Smith sack debate: Leeds Rhinos pressure mounting as Stevo questions Aussie’s future

Josh McAllister
Rohan Smith, SWPix

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Leeds Rhinos could part ways with head coach Rohan Smith like they did Richard Agar if the side don’t turn around their 2023 Super League season.

That’s according to ex-Sky Sports commentator Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson, who retired back in 2016 after 26 years on the microphone.

The Headingley Stadium side currently sit outside the play-offs in eighth position, having won just one game in their last six fixtures in all competitions since May.

Most recently, Wakefield boss Mark Applegarth tasted his first victory as his side claimed a 24-14 score over the Rhinos in Super League Round 15 at Belle Vue.

Smith’s side have won just six games this season.

Speaking on his joint podcast alongside ex-co-commentator Eddie Hemmings, the pair insist that the 42-year-old is under a lot of pressure with the possible looming threat of relegation if they cannot turn their disappointing season to date around.

“At Headingley, the word is that coach Rohan Smith is under the most intense pressure,” said Hemmings.

“One win from the last six games, six points off a play-off place with 12 games remaining. Leeds, under their coach, are not performing.”

In response, Stevo commented: “When you consider that the bottom two in Castleford and Wakefield have won just four games between them this year, three of those have come against Leeds.

“Questions are starting being asked.

“And rightly so. You keep saying that results are everything, and yes they are. The points they should have got against the bottom two did not transpire.

“The fans will have a big, big say and rightly so.”

Rohan Smith sack debate: Comparisons made with Richard Agar with fears expressed

Stevo questioned the future of Smith, who arrived midway through the 2022 campaign and later led the side to the Grand Final at Old Trafford, falling short against St Helens.

Although the now 76-year-old reiterated words from Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who is believed to be sticking by the Australian coach, having hailed Smith as his ‘most important appointment since 2003’ upon his arrival.

“If Gary Hetherington says he’s safe, you’d have to say that’s 99.9% pretty spot on,” Stevo joked.

“But what would happen, say for instance, if Leeds continue to lose every single game, and Wakefield and Castleford climb the ladder, which is also possible, maybe not as feasible…they could be relegated!

“They’ve got to start looking at the points table and say ‘we’re not safe’. Castleford are not safe either.

“I can remember Gary Hetherington saying that Richard Agar was basically there as long as he wants after they won the Challenge Cup. It didn’t take long before that went sour.”

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