What Leeds Rhinos can expect next based from the past 9 mid-season coaching exits

Aaron Bower
Richard Agar, Lee Radford and Tim Sheens

Richard Agar, Lee Radford and Tim Sheens - three of the last nine Super League coaches to lose their jobs mid-season.

Rohan Smith has become the second coaching casualty of the 2024 Super League season after he left Leeds Rhinos on Wednesday.

Smith follows his uncle, Tony, in leaving a Super League club midway through this season – and it’s safe to say the jury is still firmly out on whether or not Hull’s decision to part way with him was the right one, given how they have won just once since then.

But going back over recent history, how have the decisions to part ways with a coach mid-season panned out? Were they a success, or did they make things even worse? Here’s a dive into the archives.

Tony Smith – Hull FC (April 2024)

Tony Smith
Former Hull FC head coach Tony Smith

Smith left the Black and Whites just seven Super League games into 2024, after presiding over six defeats and a solitary win – which came against the league’s bottom club, London Broncos.

However, since his departure they have added a number of new recruits but continued to struggle. They have won just one more game since Smith left: and that came last weekend against Rohan Smith’s Leeds, which ultimately proved to be his final match in charge.

It’s hard to argue that things haven’t really changed since Smith left – at least in terms of results on the field.

Andy Last – Castleford Tigers (August 2023)

Andy Last Castleford Tigers SWpix
Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix

Castleford coach Last became the third Super League coach of 2023 to lose his job – and second at Castleford alone – in August of last year.

They fell to the bottom of Super League after five successive defeats, with Last winning just two of his 14 matches in charge. However, Danny Ward galvanised the Tigers enough over his six games in charge to ensure they avoided finishing bottom, meaning this particular decision would have to go down as a success.

Daryl Powell – Warrington Wolves (July 2023)

Daryl Powell, Warrington Wolves head coach. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo.
Daryl Powell, Warrington Wolves head coach.Photo by PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo.

Just a week before Last was let go by Castleford, another former Tigers coach found himself getting the sack as Powell was relieved of his duties by Warrington.

Ironically, it was a defeat to his future employers, Wakefield Trinity, that sealed Powell’s fate at the Wire and while Gary Chambers held the fort for the rest of the season, he couldn’t really halt Warrington’s slide as they limped out of the play-offs in the opening weekend.

Lee Radford – Castleford Tigers (March 2023)

Lee Radford Castleford Tigers SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Five months before Last was dismissed, Lee Radford was the first Castleford coach of 2023 to lose his job. Radford had done well in guiding Castleford to a seventh-placed finish in 2022 but after starting the season with three straight defeats in 2023, the change was made by the Tigers hierarchy.

However, there’s no real argument to suggest that sacking Radford improved fortunes – as just a few months later, Last was also sacked for poor performance on the field.

Tony Smith – Hull KR (July 2022)

Tony Smith Hull KR

Having guided Hull KR to a first Super League play-off finish in almost a decade in 2021, Smith announced in April the following year that he would be leaving the Robins at the end of the season.

However, that coincided with a significant drop-off in form and in July, Smith was sacked with Rovers sitting 10th in the table. Danny McGuire was installed as interim head coach and he did lead a mini-resurgence, as Rovers finished 8th before Willie Peters arrived the following year.

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Richard Agar – Leeds Rhinos (March 2022)

Richard Agar Leeds Rhinos

Agar left Leeds in the early stages of the 2022 campaign after just one win in their opening six games of the season.

Leeds eventually replaced him with Rohan Smith and of all the mid-season departures on this list, this would rank as one of the most successful: as Smith guided the Rhinos all the way to the Super League Grand Final in his first few months in charge at Headingley.

Lee Radford – Hull FC (March 2020)

Lee Radford, Hull FC
Lee Radford, Hull FC head coach between September 2013 and March 2020

One of the most infamous dismissals in Super League history, Radford’s historic reign as Hull FC coach ended in chaotic and controversial circumstances in early-2020.

Having delivered successive Challenge Cup titles to his hometown club, a poor start to the 2020 campaign led to his dismissal. It came when Adam Pearson announced live on Sky Sports in the aftermath of a heavy defeat to Warrington that Radford had been sacked.

Last led them to a 6th-placed finish in a heavily-interrupted season due to Covid-19; but that is the last time Hull made the Super League play-offs.

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Tim Sheens – Hull KR (July 2019)

Tim Sheens, Hull KR
Tim Sheens was the man in charge of Hull KR during the 2017 season which saw them promoted up from the Championship

After almost three years in charge of Hull KR – and having presided over their promotion back to Super League – Sheens was sacked by the Robins in the summer of 2019.

At that time, the club were second-bottom of Super League and in grave danger of relegation back to the Championship. Tony Smith took charge almost immediately after Sheens’ exit and he managed to steer the club to safety.

David Furner – Leeds Rhinos (May 2019)

Furner’s ill-fated stint in charge at Headingley lasted just six months and 15 games. He left the club languishing in the lower reaches of Super League, with Richard Agar taking charge of the club after Furner’s departure.

Though Leeds could only finish 8th in 2019, Agar did lead the Rhinos to the Challenge Cup the following season.


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