Hull KR coach Tony Smith hails impact of debutant Brad Takairangi

IT has been a while coming, but Hull Kingston Rovers coach Tony Smith felt star signing Brad Takairangi’s delayed debut in Super League was worth waiting for.

Brad Takairangi: Hull KR centre made a strong contribution against Leeds Rhinos. Picture: SWPix.com

The versatile Australian-born import produced a strong performance in Rovers’ 26-6 defeat of Leeds Rhinos, which completed back-to-back wins for the first time in almost three years.

Takairangi played in Rovers’ pre-season defeat to Castleford Tigers, but suffered a muscle strain in training before Super League round one and missed their opening four games of the campaign.

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He returned in the centres against Leeds and, despite being rested late on because of a back problem, made a strong contribution which Smith feels bodes well for the future.

“He tightened up a little bit towards the back end of the game,” said Smith explaining why Takairangi failed to complete the match.

“He got some accidental knees in the back and started to seize up a bit because of it, which is understandable, but I thought he was good.

“He showed some of what I think he is capable of bringing to us.”

The 31-year-old has represented Cook Islands and New Zealand at Test level and also made 179 appearances in the NRL for Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans and Parramatta Eels before moving to England. As well as centre, he can play in the second-row and featured as a half-back in the practice game against Castleford.

Smith said: “What I do know he has got is a really good rugby league understanding.

“He brings a lot of steadiness to us, but a lot of direction as well.

“He calls the shots in so many ways, not just with the ball, but in defence as well.”

At 6ft 4in tall, Takairangi will be a threat in the air, as he showed when almost grabbing a debut try from a high crossfield kick by scrum-half Jordan Abdull early in the game.

“It was good to have him out there and we saw some glimpses of what he is capable of as an attacking weapon to catch some high balls,” added Smith

“He was dreadfully unlucky not to score his first try; he came down just short of the line, but he was about 10 feet higher than everybody else on that jump.”

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