Leeds Rhinos v Hull KR: Tony Smith endorses Rohan Smith credentials ahead of long-distance showdown

Tony Smith has tipped Rohan Smith to bring the glory days back to Leeds Rhinos - but the Hull KR head coach plans to make tonight's game an uncomfortable watch for his nephew.

Tony Smith has backed his nephew to succeed at Leeds Rhinos. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Tony Smith has backed his nephew to succeed at Leeds Rhinos. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Rohan Smith was handed the reins at Headingley last week, although he will not officially take over from interim boss Jamie Jones-Buchanan until next Tuesday.

The 40-year-old's appointment has not been universally popular with those critics pointing to his lack of experience as a head coach.

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But his credentials have been endorsed by somebody who knows him as well as anybody in the game.

Rohan Smith will watch the Hull KR game from his home in Australia. (Picture:SWPix.com)

"I'm delighted for him because I'm one of his big supporters," said Tony Smith.

"I've tipped him up for a couple of other jobs at different stages and have had a lot of time for him for a long time.

"The fact he's now going to be an opponent, we'll put that aside on each of those days. I'm certainly looking forward to doing my best against him.

"He's a wise young man who is ready for that role."

Hull KR are aiming to consolidate their place in the top six. (Picture: SWPix.com)

As well as taking charge of Bradford Bulls and Norths Devils - Brisbane Broncos’ feeder club - Rohan Smith gained a wealth of experience in the background at New Zealand Warriors, Newcastle Knights, Sydney Roosters, Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans.

He has inherited a team near the bottom of Super League but the Australian has been backed to fire Leeds up the table.

Asked whether he thinks Rohan could re-establish the Rhinos as a force, Tony Smith replied: "Yeah I do, absolutely. I think he's the right person for the job.

"There are some similarities but he's different as well. He's his own man and has developed his own style but we have similarities.

"He'll find his own way there. His knowledge of the game and his development of young players is exceptional.

"He'll work out what's required for that organisation as well. He'll stamp his own mark.

"It was necessary to get the appointment right and I do think they got it right.

"I think he'll go on to have a long and successful career."

Rohan Smith will pit his wits against his uncle from afar tonight after being made to wait for visa clearance.

While he hopes to see his nephew thrive in the role, there is no chance of Tony Smith going easy on him as Hull KR chase a seventh straight win at Headingley.

"That'd be nice," he said on the prospect of extending the winning streak.

"We're just trying to improve. That focus has worked pretty well for us so far.

"We're not getting carried away. We know we've got a tough game against Leeds and have to be prepared.

"We look really refreshed and on our toes. Sometimes it's a worry after Easter but I don't seem to have those concerns with these boys.

"They've re-energised and look like they've got a spring in their step."