Hull KR v Wakefield Trinity: Willie Poching looking to upset ‘mentor’ Tony Smith

WILLIE POCHING returns to Hull KR tonight admitting Robins chief Tony Smith will always be a “mentor” having played such a significant role in his playing and coaching career.

In his third game as Wakefield Trinity’s interim head coach, Poching takes on the club where he has twice worked as an assistant coach. The second spell was just last season, operating under Smith who was also his coach as a player when Leeds Rhinos won the 2004 Grand Final before taking him under his wing as an assistant at Headingley and Warrington Wolves.

“He (Smith) has been a huge influence on me in rugby league terms starting as a player and what he was able to do for me and the team to get the success we had back then and turn us around,” recalled Poching.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“He taught me how to see the game a little bit differently and respect some of the areas of the game we generally used to take for granted. That was in skill and preparation areas.

“He gave me my chance to start coaching at Leeds and took me to a couple of clubs with him. I cannot understate the influence he has on me especially positively.

“I still lean on him. I still talk to him. He will always be a mentor and I know I can lean on him and he can lean on me whenever he needs. The biggest thing he taught me was being thorough; being prepared, ready and armed for every different scenario.”

Understandably, there has not been any contact this week in the build-up to tonight’s game which holds importance for both for varying reasons.

Wakefield have beaten Warrington and lost to Castleford Tigers since Chris Chester’s sacking. They want to finish with a run of form. Rovers, on the other hand, quickly need to recover after Saturday’s 23-22 derby defeat at Hull FC if they want to maintain their top-six play-off hopes.

Wakefield interim coach Willie Poching. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Poching, who fears full-back Max Jowitt might not play again this term due to a shoulder injury, said: “We understand how dangerous they are especially with the ball in hand.

“They are a fantastic team to watch and very difficult to defend.

“We have to try and go with the team that can do the best job in that department for us.”