The East Yorkshire club are building towards their Betfred Super League season opener against Catalans Dragons on Saturday evening but have seen one of their big NRL signings suffer a late injury in training.
Former New Zealand international Brad Takairangi, who joined from Parramatta Eels in the autumn ready to augment a Robins side who finished bottom last term, pulled up in yesterday’s session.
The 31-year-old, who played stand-off in the friendly against Castleford Tigers but is equally adept at centre or second-row, is now rated doubtful.
“I’ve got to have a check on Brad,” said Smith, the former Leeds Rhinos and England coach who is experienced enough to adapt to such problems.
“He’s copped a knock there today and I need to see how he is in the morning.
“I’m not sure how he is at this stage. I’d say he’s doubtful.
“He has a bit of a muscle strain and we need to see how that settles down, if it settles down.
“We’re still hopeful. He’s an exciting signing, and to be without him would clearly be a blow. But, if not, there’ll be a chance for someone else.”
Forwards Muizz Mustapha and Will Maher will also be unavailable but Catalans coach Steve McNamara said he will give a debut ti their Kiwi centre Dean Whare.
He has not been on board in France for long but McNamara said he is a “seasoned pro’” and will be ready to step straight in after his move from Penrith Panthers.
It looks, though, like star centre Israel Folau – whose arrival in Perpignan and Super League caused such a stir last term – will not be back with them.
The former dual-code Australia international headed home with his wife and newborn baby at the end of last season but has still not returned due to a “serious family situation” and was not listed when the club revealed its squad numbers.
McNamara, whose side reached the semi-finals last term, is pragmatic on the issue and said: “It’s just the situation.
“It’s a real life situation with his family and Covid.
“Obviously there was a lot of interest around him when he came and everything else that goes with it.
“But there’s nothing untoward about this at all; he can’t come back at this stage. It’s all amicable. If things change that’d be great but as we see it, right now, that’s not going to change.”
Meanwhile, Smith had said how he does not believe Shaun Wane’s role as England head coach should be a full-time position.
The ex-Wigan Warriors chief is working towards the World Cup at the end of the year.
Smith, who was in charge during the 2008 World Cup, said he “sympathises” with Wane at being in the role full-time and not being able to coach.
“I don’t think it suits rugby league to have a full-time head coach of England; I think they need to be coaching somewhere in order to keep their craft and skills high.”
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