Coaching Robins has given me love of game back, says Hull KR’s Tony Smith

Tony Smith won two Grand Finals with Leeds and three Challenge Cups with Warrington but says he is gaining more pleasure from his current coaching stint with Hull KR.

Good feeling: Hull KR coach Tony Smith is really enjoying his stint in charge of the Robins. Picture: Simon Wilkinson/
Good feeling: Hull KR coach Tony Smith is really enjoying his stint in charge of the Robins. Picture: Simon Wilkinson/

The 55-year-old former Great Britain coach, who was in charge of England for the 2008 World Cup, began coaching in Super League at Huddersfield in 2001 but quit the game altogether after leaving Warrington in 2017.

Smith, an Australian who took out British nationality when he coached the national team, was tempted back by Rovers in the summer of 2019 and, after they finished bottom of the table in his first full season, he guided the team to within 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final in 2021.

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“By the time I finished my last stint, I was tired of it and tired of things in general,” Smith said. “That happens in any walk of life.

“I certainly feel like I’ve got my mojo back in terms of coaching and a lot of that is down to the players I coach.

“They’ve helped me as much as I’ve helped them in terms of getting that excitement and fulfilment about coaching again.”

After transforming the club’s fortunes in 2021, Smith has given himself a hard act to follow but he says he will not be influenced by raised expectations and insists his main priority is to entertain.

“I get more joy and react more when people tell me they enjoy watching the team I coach,” he said. “That means more to me than what the bookies say.

“The whole sport needs to be entertaining, we need to get people to come along and watch us. We’ve all got a responsibility as coaches not just to win games, we’ve got a responsibility to be entertaining as well.

“I’m not worried if we lose. I’ve experienced plenty of that throughout my career, right back to the first 15 games I coached in this country which were all losses. “I try to make sure that, no matter whether we lose or not, we play in a certain way and a certain style.

“I’m at a different stage of my career to a lot of young coaches. Some of them have got to win or find ways of not losing, whereas I’m trying to get my teams to take risks and put pressure on others teams to crack,” said Smith, whose side open their campaign against Wigan on Friday.