Tony Smith reveals love of Hull KR after making surprising admission

The former England, Huddersfield, Leeds and Warrington boss was brought in on a short-term deal following the departure of Tim Sheens in the summer of 2019 and, after saving them from relegation on the final day of the season, he signed a three-year contract.

Filling in as a favour

“I only came for three months, to hang out with Danny McGuire and a few others,” Smith said.

“There were no expectations from me, I was just filling in as a bit of a favour for a few months.

“It hooked me in terms of this club. I love the spirit of this club, I love what it’s about.

“I like to be part of a re-build and I think each place that I’ve coached at has probably had some of that.”

PLAY-OFFS: This week’s squad news

The Robins’ top-six finish comes after they finished 2020 with the wooden spoon and Smith compares their upturn in fortunes to the transformation he oversaw at Huddersfield.

“My first job was probably similar to this one.” he said. “This year reminds me of my last year at Huddersfield.

“We were in sixth position with about nine weeks to go. It just changed the whole landscape of the club in terms of recruitment.

“Getting out of that relegation zone changes your whole outlook and it changed Huddersfield’s future forever. That’s how important a season like this can be.

“I couldn’t have forecast how quick it’s happened but, once we got the crew of players together in pre-season, we felt there was something going on here.”

Injury concerns for Tony Smith

Hull KR missed out on fifth place after going down 36-12 at Leeds last Friday and have a host of injury concerns ahead of the trip to the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Hooker Matt Parcell loses his ever-present record after sustaining a pectoral injury in that game, although the injury is not as bad as Smith first feared.

“Matty had a scan yesterday and he will see a consultant tomorrow. But the good news is that he hasn’t torn his pec away,” he said.

“He’s got some damage to the ligament but it won’t need a repair at this stage, he should be able to rehab it.”

Hull KR will be without hooker Matt Parcell for the Warrington clash

Rovers have another specialist hooker in Jez Litten, who has also played in all 21 matches so far this year, but has started just four of them.

Tony Smith will give fitness checks to props Korbin Sims, Adam Maher and Albert Vete and loose forward George Lawler, who has missed the three games with a dislocated thumb.

Tony Smith admits he may have to take some risks with the fitness of his players going into a must-win game.

“We take risks with players each time they go out there when they’re not fully fit, it’s just how much risk you take, whether it can further damage them,” he said. “I wouldn’t do that if they were not right.

“But there’s risks every week, we just have to weigh it up and hope for the best sometimes.”

In sharp contrast, Warrington coach Steve Price, Smith’s successor, says he has a full squad to choose from with the exception of prop Mike Cooper, who will not challenge a one-match ban handed out for a high tackle in his side’s win at Castleford last Thursday.

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