Leeds Rhinos v St Helens: Rohan Smith ready for different kind of challenge from fallen Super League champions

Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith is expecting a typical St Helens performance at Headingley – with a modern twist.

The fallen Super League champions began the season in ominous form but are fresh from a shock home loss to Salford Red Devils with 12 men.

Smith has prepared his team for a different kind of attacking threat from Saints based on the early rounds.

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"You know what you are getting with St Helens," he said. "They are a great competitive team and are extremely hard to break down.

"I think their attack has evolved a little bit. The way they’ve structured their team is a little different with (Lewis) Dodd playing across the middle of the field a bit more often and (Jack) Welsby and (Jonny) Lomax playing on either side. But they are great, smart players as well so they aren’t limited in their role.

"There’s probably more passing from their middle-unit players, playing before the line, so there’s a few intricacies there that are perhaps a bit different, but the Saints DNA of competing hard and scrambling and being in it to win it is certainly very evident."

Like St Helens, Leeds have won three of their opening four games but it is seven years since the Rhinos last defeated their rivals at Headingley.

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Smith has stressed Friday’s fixture is worth the same two points as any other round as he played down the significance of a result against Saints early in the season.

Rohan Smith is relishing the challenge of facing St Helens. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)Rohan Smith is relishing the challenge of facing St Helens. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
Rohan Smith is relishing the challenge of facing St Helens. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

"A win against a big team is always a scalp but at this time of the year everyone’s scrambling to try and find their identity and get match fit and to try and get a bit of consistency," he said. "We know it’s going to be a huge battle and it’s one we look forward to."

The teams will meet again next week in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup after being paired together in Monday's draw.

"The cup will be our priority next week," added Smith. "This week (Super League) round five is our priority.”

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