HULL KR head coach Tony Smith admits he could “never have predicted” his former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield would now be director of rugby at Emerald Headingley.
The clubs meet tomorrow both looking to start making a mark on the new season. Sinfield, who won Leeds’s first two Super League titles under Smith in 2004 and 2007, is in the midst of a major rebuild after his return to the club just over 18 months ago.
Rhinos’ campaign got off to a poor start with a 30-4 home loss to Hull FC before Sunday’s fixture at Huddersfield fell victim to Storm Ciara.
Since his surprise appointment, Sinfield has made plenty of tough decisions to try and get Leeds back on track following some poor seasons of late, including sacking former team-mate Dave Furner as coach last May.
Asked if he ever imagined the prolific Rhinos legend heading into his current role, Smith said: “He’s great with people and is a learned person; he’s always trying to educate himself and get better.
“I wasn’t sure where he’d end up in terms of professions. He’s got there very quickly and probably at times had to learn and gain experience very fast without some mileage on his clock; that vast experience some get before they get to a position like that.”
He’s got there very quickly and probably at times had to learn and gain experience very fast without some mileage on his clock; that vast experience some get before they get to a position like thatTony Smith on Kevin Sinfield
Smith added: “He’s done well. One of the things I like about Kevin is that he’s very honest.
“One of his best qualities is his honesty and when he makes a mistake he puts his hand up about it. That’s a great attribute to have. He’ll stand by some of his decisions as well and argue them well. He’s very articulate. (But) I don’t know if I could have predicted he’d be where he is now.”
Rovers are without full-back Adam Quinlan (ankle) for up to four weeks, so Will Dagger comes in, while Matt Parcell and Jordan Abdull hope to return.
Leeds remain without captain Stevie Ward (concussion).
Meanwhile, Warrington Wolves centre Anthony Gelling has been stood down by the club just two games into the season pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
The Cook Islands international, 29, joined from Widnes in the close season and has played the first two rounds but will miss Sunday’s game at Wakefield.
A statement from the club said: “Warrington Wolves can confirm that centre Anthony Gelling will not be available for selection pending a club investigation into conduct away from the club.”