Shaun Kenny-Dowall said everyone was “a bit shocked” to see Hull KR sack Tony Smith, and paid a glowing tribute to the man who made him captain.
The Robins parted ways with head coach Smith on Monday following a poor 28-6 defeat in Toulouse at the weekend.
Hull KR had won just once in eight games since Smith made the surprise announcement that he would be leaving Craven Park at the end of the season.
But speaking to the press on Tuesday, Kenny-Dowall was full of praise for Smith, saying the masterful coach brought out the best in him.
Kenny-Dowall said: “I think everyone was a bit shocked. It was a lot to take in. The boys have responded as well as they can given the circumstances.
“We’ve come back into training, absorbed the news and cracked on with business and get back to training in preparation for this weekend.
“Everyone is a bit sad, shocked and disappointed with all sorts of emotions but we are ready to crack on and start preparing for this week under Magsy (Danny McGuire).
“I think there are many circumstances of why it has come to this point. A decision has been made. It is up to us as a squad and a club as to how we respond. There is still a lot of rugby to be played and that is our main focus going forward.
“Tony has been a great role model for me”
“He has brought the best out of me as a player and I’ve really enjoyed my time under him. I’ll hold some fond memories about what we achieved together under his guidance; and the levels he was able to take us to. That is not lost on the playing group and we will remember Tony for the things he did for us.”
Tony Smith hailed by Shaun Kenny-Dowall for captaincy honour
Former New Zealand international Kenny-Dowall was made captain by Smith at Hull KR, something which he will be forever grateful for.
He added: “It was really nice of Tony to believe in me. I thought we built up a really good relationship, I think that showed with the way we performed.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Tony on and off the field and I hope that can continue beyond rugby.”
Smith’s assistant Danny McGuire has taken the head coaching reins on an interim basis until incoming head coach Willie Peters arrives at the end of the year.
Kenny-Dowall wants to use this weekend’s Hull derby at Magic Weekend to help turn their season around.
He added: “Our performances have just not been good enough. It is up to us how we respond and come together under the guidance of Magsy.
“We’ve got a massive game this weekend and there is still a lot of rugby to be played. We’ve got to put our best foot forward to make sure the season doesn’t slip by. We need to make sure there is an opportunity for how we want to end the season on our terms.”
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