Hull KR not ‘immune’ to relegation pressure, says Smith

Business as usual for 'Hull Kingston'Rovers head coach Tony Smith.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe')
Business as usual for 'Hull Kingston'Rovers head coach Tony Smith.' (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe')
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HULL KR coach Tony Smith’s side is not “immune” to the pressures of relegation but he hopes they show enough focus to avoid that dreaded scenario tomorrow.

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It’s business as usual for us. We’ve looked at our opponents, their weaknesses, strengths and come up with a gameplan we think suits us.

Tony Smith

The Robins are one of four teams who could go down on the final night of the regular season – they are level with London Broncos, Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield Giants on 20 points – so tension is rising.

If bottom-placed London lose at Wakefield tomorrow they are relegated just 12 months after promotion. But a win saves them and Trinity would then need either KR – who visit Salford Red Devils – or Huddersfield, who host Catalans Dragons, to lose so they stay up on points difference

Rovers, of course, missed a golden chance to secure their own status losing at the death at home to London last Friday.

They get a second shot at it tomorrow but impressive hosts Salford are on a seven-game winning run and, if they make that eight, could finish as high as third.

Moreover, Rovers have the painful memory of suffering relegation at the hands of Salford in the Million Pound Game three years ago although, admittedly, they are in a better position now.

Asked how he keeps the pressure off his players, Smith said: “Talk to them like human beings.

“We understand what the ramifications of this are, the importance of the match and how the outcome can be positive for us or negative for us.

“We’re not immune to that and I don’t try to deceive these guys and tell them it’s anything different. There’s always a pressure there. It’s how you handle that.

“I’m hoping they focus on their jobs to alleviate that pressure.”

‘Focus’ is a key word; they lost it at vital times last week to fall against London.

Captain Joel Tomkins, for instance, is suspended tonight after throwing a punch in that game.

Centre Jimmy Keinhorst is also missing after suffering a concussion then but Dean Hadley, who came off with a shoulder injury, is named in the 19-man squad and crucially Adam Quinlan, Kane Linnett and George Lawler are all back from their own injuries.

Smith said: “It’s business as usual for us. We’ve looked at our opponents, their weaknesses, strengths and come up with a gameplan we think suits us. They are just solid. They have a couple of really good players; Jackson Hastings is an outstanding one, if not the best in the competition.

“I don’t think they are spectacular but they play some decent rugby league and ask questions.

“But I think we can ask them questions of our own. They’re certainly not a team you can take lightly. Nor do you have to fear for your life against them.”