Tony Smith breaks silence on Hull FC exit as he discusses prospect of Super League return

Tony Smith has left the door open for a return to coaching but stressed that the expectations on both sides must align after his time at Hull FC was cut short.

The Black and Whites parted ways with Smith in April, just 18 months into a major rebuilding project.

The 57-year-old's time at previous club Hull KR also came to an abrupt end but his love for coaching has not diminished.

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"I'm not actively searching at the moment," said Smith, who held the title of Super League's most experienced coach.

"In the past, I've said that I probably wasn't going to look that way but each time that opportunity comes along... I just love coaching.

"Even though my last project was really tough – probably the toughest I've ever had – I was still enjoying the coaching aspect of it.

"I wouldn't say never but it would have to be the right opportunity. They all excite you but it's what the expectations are and the length of time. To turn someone around where their programme hasn't been good for a long time takes some time."

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The Airlie Birds finished 10th in Smith's first season to highlight the size of the challenge facing the former Great Britain and England boss.

Tony Smith has opened up on a challenging spell at Hull FC. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Tony Smith has opened up on a challenging spell at Hull FC. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Tony Smith has opened up on a challenging spell at Hull FC. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

Hull's fortunes did not improve at the start of this year amid a selection crisis, with Smith leaving his post after just one win in eight matches.

Originally brought in to oversee a long-term project with a heavy focus on developing homegrown players, Smith felt there was a change of approach following the completion of an investment deal.

The Black and Whites have since appointed Richie Myler as director of rugby and signed Leigh Leopards captain John Asiata on a bumper marquee contract.

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"The owner's remit changed a whole lot in my last place," added Smith. "I totally get that and there are no hard feelings.

Tony Smith leads a dressing room presentation. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Tony Smith leads a dressing room presentation. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Tony Smith leads a dressing room presentation. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

"He just ended up going in a different direction with different investors and there was no problem with that.

"If the new investors didn't want me to be a part of that, I totally understand that. Nothing has left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

"It's just part and parcel of rugby league. If you get down about that, you're in the wrong profession.

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"The job before this one was fine with the players etc; I just had an issue with one person within the organisation – and a pretty important one, too.

Richie Myler, pictured, has taken over as director of rugby since Tony Smith's departure. (Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix.com)Richie Myler, pictured, has taken over as director of rugby since Tony Smith's departure. (Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix.com)
Richie Myler, pictured, has taken over as director of rugby since Tony Smith's departure. (Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix.com)

"I didn't have any of that sort of situation in the last position. The goalposts just changed rather quickly. I was fine with that and totally accept it.

"If the right opportunity came along and somebody wanted to change their fortunes with a reasonable and practical view on how long that takes, I've got a pretty good track record of turning places around. Eventually we would have got FC going as well."

Smith took over from Brett Hodgson at the end of 2022 after the Australian oversaw finishes of eighth and ninth in his two seasons at the helm.

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Following Smith's appointment, owner Adam Pearson said: "We're not hiding from the fact that culturally things need to be better."

Hull's struggles have continued beyond Smith's reign, with last week's defeat at Castleford Tigers extending their losing run to 10 games.

"Each of the jobs you take, there's a different starting point," said Smith.

Tony Smith has coached on both sides of the city. (Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix.com)Tony Smith has coached on both sides of the city. (Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix.com)
Tony Smith has coached on both sides of the city. (Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix.com)

"My starting point at Leeds Rhinos was fairly high. It wasn't quite as high at Warrington but they were well up the ladder, whereas this last one was down around the bottom of what I've taken on before.

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"Having lived in the city, I knew some of the issues and didn't go in completely blind – but at the same time, you sometimes get taken aback from the level you think it's at to what it actually is.

"I knew it was going to be a big project and probably a lengthy project to get it right, particularly under the circumstances.

"There are no regrets about doing that. I was quite happy to go in there and love challenges like that."

Smith moved over to the city during his time at Hull KR but has returned to West Yorkshire following his departure from the MKM Stadium.

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Hull will always hold a special place in his heart despite the way it ended on both sides of the river.

"I would have loved to have had a positive impact on both clubs," said Smith, who plans to coach in the corporate world and work with the League Managers Association while he is out of rugby league.

"I'd like to think I cleaned out some aspects of FC but it was going to take a whole lot longer than the time I was given to do that.

"The people of Hull were terrific to me. Wherever I went, I never got any grief from anybody. They always wished me well and understood some of the challenges we were going through.

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"There will be some people who don’t see it that way which is understandable as well. You can be winning the competition and still find somebody who is not going to agree with you.

"I wish both sides of the city all the success."

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