WATCH - Hull KR v London Broncos – Battle to avoid relegation from Super League is damaging sport in long-term

Hull KR head coach Tony Smith.
Hull KR head coach Tony Smith.
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Hull KR coach Tony Smith knows his club will secure their Super League future with victory against London Broncos tonight but says they and all involved in this absorbing relegation battle will still pay a long-term price.

If Rovers, in 11th, can prosper at KCOM Craven Park, they will move four points clear of their bottom-placed opponents with just one round remaining.

They are desperate to achieve safety this evening so they do not need to worry about gaining a result at in-form Salford Red Devils next week.

“We’d just like to perform well so we can move on and start actually developing and planning for the future,” said Smith, the former Leeds Rhinos and England coach who signed a new deal last weekend.

“It is key to be able to do that as soon as possible. That’s the down part of it (relegation); it just keeps so many in limbo, unable to make decisions and secure positions on peoples’ employment.

“It is tough. I hate it (relegation) and I’ve seen the devastation of it.”

Smith, 52, was relegated with Huddersfield Giants in 2001 – his first season as a Super League coach. Currently, any one of four could still go down with KR – relegated in 2016 – Huddersfield and Wakefield Trinity all just two points above Broncos.

Leeds, meanwhile, only secured their safety with victory at London on Sunday and were one of the clubs that made a raft of signings before the transfer deadline on August 9 to bolster their hopes of survival.

That is where Smith believes damage will be caused to the sport as a whole.

“I’ve seen how it affects development,” he continued.

“Because of this system, there is going to be a real hole in development of young rugby league players as there’s been half-a-dozen teams this year that have been in and around this relegation area.

“If you look at them, they have all pretty much had to go and strengthen themselves in the immediate – so they’re not planning towards the future.

“It’s bonkers. We’ve had to do it. We’ve had to go get players on loan to field a team and that’s money that we could have been using to resource our juniors and development.

“There will be a knock-on (effect), a knock-on of lack of development because of the system that we’ve either just been in or what’s happening now.”

Before reverting to one-up, one-down this term, the bottom four Super League clubs all came under threat in the previous Qualifiers format.

“At least we supposedly cut it down to one team with this although as it happens there’s even more in the (relegation) mix,” said Smith.

“It will have an impact on where we are spending our money and if we’re ever going to catch the Australians we need to come up with a system where we are developing our own players.”

Defeat will all but relegate London and ease so much pressure on Trinity and Giants.

Smith said: “Everybody knows the importance of a good performance and what it can secure for us and others. But we’re not thinking about the others at the moment!”