Rohan Smith under pressure? Can London win? Super League burning questions

Aaron Bower
Rohan Smith Leeds Rhinos Alamy

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith

It’s shaping up to be another significant weekend of Super League action at both ends of the table as Round 9 gets underway.

There’s storylines and questions that need to be asked at the top and the bottom and as is always the case, Love Rugby League is on the agenda to ponder the serious burning questions on our mind going into the weekend’s action..

Just how much pressure is Rohan Smith under?

St Helens

The man himself insists not that much.

“I have heard nothing alternate to me coming in and doing my job for the club,” Smith said on Thursday. “We want to do better and we have played some good footy. We need to get some more results, that’s clear, but it is not the worst position in the world to be in.”

But it is clear that the expectations at a club like Leeds are sizeable – and if there isn’t pressure on Smith, there certainly is pressure on his side to win this weekend against Hull FC. Defeat there against a side horrendously out of sorts, and the spotlight will intensify on Smith like never before, you feel.

If not this week for London, when?

Mike Eccles

They’ve come desperately close to getting their first win back in Super League earlier in the year at Hull: but there’s an argument this could be London Broncos‘ best chance yet.

Castleford Tigers are still, in the eyes of many, the side who will finish closest to London at the foot of the table this year. It will be fascinating to see how their new recruits fare on Friday evening but there’s no doubting that this feels like a golden opportunity for London to get off the mark.

Granted, finishing bottom this year isn’t quite as consequential but the Broncos will want to give themselves a great chance of proving people wrong. Lose on Friday night, and they may rue it.

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Could the play-off race be down to eight already?

Josh Charnley
Leigh Leopards ace Josh Charnley in action against former club Wigan Warriors in the first ‘Battle of the Borough’ in 2024

There’s still A LOT of rugby league to be played in 2024, make no mistake about it. But if results go a certain way this weekend, there could be a sizeable gap between the top eight and the bottom four.

If Leeds beat Hull FC, it’s entirely possible there could be an eight-point gap between the Rhinos in 8th and the four sides below them. Nothing is insurmountable before we even get to May but that would be a big gap to bridge heading towards the halfway mark in the season.

And it’s Leigh Leopards in particular you would look at and wonder how that would define the rest of their year if they continue to get cut adrift.

Will Salford ride the Paul Rowley momentum?

Paul Rowley Salford Red Devils Alamy
Salford Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley

Catalans are the only team to get the better of Sam Burgess’ Warrington so far in 2024 – but there’ll be some Salford fans who fancy adding their team’s name to that rather small list this weekend.

They’ll be riding on the crest of a wave too given the news that emerged this week that Paul Rowley was remaining with the Red Devils in favour of a switch to Hull FC.

Rowley’s Salford are no strangers to causing an upset and surprising Super League – even given Warrington’s form, it’d be a brave man who definitely backed against the hosts on Saturday afternoon.

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