Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell "hopeful" ex-Leeds Rhinos coach Tony Smith will stay with Robins

Hull KR coach Tony Smith ahead of his first game in charge (PIC:STEVE RIDING)
Hull KR coach Tony Smith ahead of his first game in charge (PIC:STEVE RIDING)
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HULL KR chairman Neil Hudgell says the signs are “positive” that head coach Tony Smith will stay with the club in 2020.

The former Leeds Rhinos and England boss took over from the sacked Tim Sheens in June on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

Hull KR's Tony Smith, left, with Warrington boss Steve Price before picking up his first Robins win. (PIC:JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Hull KR's Tony Smith, left, with Warrington boss Steve Price before picking up his first Robins win. (PIC:JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

With the main remit to steer the club away from the threat of relegation, admittedly they are still in that fight.

But since Smith came in, they have won four from nine games, been competitive in all but one of them and the club’s hierarchy have been impressed with how he has raised standards on and off the field at KCOM Craven Park.

The 52-year-old Australian - who had spent 18 months away from the sport after leaving his last role at Warrington Wolves - refuses to be drawn on whether he will sign a new deal even as he approaches the final stages of his current contract.

Clearly, helping secure Rovers’ Super League future is his immediate priority.

But, asked if he had been pleased with Smith’s impact, owner Hudgell told The Yorkshire Post: “Yes. What he does is lift the pressure off the players, giving them ownership and accountability.

“I hope he stays, the signs are positive.

“But we need get through the next few weeks first.

“Longer-term I can see him making an impact on the club way beyond the playing group.”

Under Smith’s tenure, the Robins have still yet to win back-to-back games, losing, then winning throughout.

With just four games to go, they need to break that cycle swiftly.

Rovers remain in 11th just two points and one spot clear of bottom-placed London Broncos.

However, Wakefield Trinity - who they host in a crucial contest on Sunday - and Huddersfield Giants are also only two points adrift of that relegation spot.

Rovers were level 18-18 at champions Wigan Warriors last week before falling away and losing 36-18.

“Consistency is where we need to improve,” admitted Hudgell.

“We need to perform better for longer. We had it for an hour at Wigan and didn’t cope well with adversity at 18 all.

“We had it in patches v Castleford (a 27-26 Golden Point win); we controlled most of the game at Leeds (1 32-16 victory).

“We need to put in a complete 80 minutes. I think Tony would say at the moment we are very much a ‘work in progress’.”