Rohan Smith responds to speculation linking Tony Smith with Leeds Rhinos return

New Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith has stressed that he has not held conversations with his uncle Tony about joining him at Headingley later this year.

Rohan Smith held his first press conference as Leeds Rhinos head coach on Thursday morning. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Rohan Smith held his first press conference as Leeds Rhinos head coach on Thursday morning. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Tony Smith has been linked with a return to his former club since Richard Agar's departure last month and that speculation has intensified following his decision to stand aside as Hull KR coach at the end of the season.

But Rohan, whose appointment was confirmed within hours of the KR press conference on Wednesday, insisted the timing was simply a coincidence.

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"Certainly not with me," he replied when asked whether any talks had taken place.

It is Rohan Smith's first head coach role at the top level. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

"Tony and I have regular texts about life and footy and I'm looking forward to spending time with my uncle.

"He's been a guiding influence and helped me get my first start at London with Tony Rea but I actually haven't spent a lot of time in his presence so I'll look forward to that.

"At this stage though it's as an uncle, not as a colleague."

Rohan has followed in Tony's footsteps after seeing his uncle win two Super League Grand Finals during a successful spell in charge at Headingley between 2004 and 2007.

Tony Smith after Hull KR's derby win over Hull FC. (Picture: SWPix.com)

He tapped into Tony's knowledge of the club during a due-diligence process that also saw him bend the ear of Chev Walker, a current Leeds assistant coach who he worked with at Bradford Bulls.

"I actually had a few messages with Tony during the time of the process," said Smith during his first press conference since taking the job.

"I already knew a big factor about the perception of the club from outside is that it's well-resourced, well-managed and everything is in place really.

"I asked Tony if there was any reason not to pursue the job and he said definitely not.

"I've kept in close contact with Chev Walker over the years since my time at Bradford and I've got a deep trust and belief in Chev. He's a great man and what he says is the truth. He's always spoken well of the club.

"My manager did his due diligence too so everything turned out to be perfect."

Smith will not arrive in time for Friday's crunch clash with Toulouse Olympique as he awaits international clearance.

He is braced for a surreal experience when he settles down to watch the game from his home in Australia.

"That'll be a new experience, for sure," said Smith as he gave an insight into his coaching style.

"When I was at the (Gold Coast) Titans, I missed a game when my wife was due to give birth to my first child. I watched it on a TV somewhere and that was an unusual experience.

"I'll just have to do my best there. I'm reasonably calm and try to look at the big picture mostly, but I do have an attention to detail play for play around techniques and finer points.

"Even before that game happens I'll be getting through a few games on video to build my awareness and knowledge of the squad."