Gary Hetherington’s early verdict on new Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith

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Leeds Rhinos supremo Gary Hetherington says Rohan Smith has “already made a good impression” at Headingley as he backed the new head coach to engineer a play-off push.

Smith recently signed a three-and-a-half-year contract that will keep him at Headingley until the end of the 2025 Super League season. The 40-year-old, who joined the Rhinos from Australian side Norths Devils, is the son of former Hull FC and Bradford coach Brian Smith and the nephew of ex-Leeds boss Tony Smith.

He will take charge of his first game in Sunday’s trip to Salford Red Devils as the Rhinos go in search of a third straight win.

Read more : Zak Hardaker explains why he had to leave Wigan Warriors and take up Leeds Rhinos move

Hetherington told Leeds Live: “Rohan is here for the long term, he’s already made a good impression and will continue to do so. We want to make progress up the table and have been really pleased with the past couple of results under Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

“We’ve been absolutely decimated by injuries and the team who played against Toulouse and Hull KR did exceptionally well to get those wins. I think we’ve got five or six players back this weekend at Salford, so all of a sudden our team looks very different.

“There is a lot of rugby still to be played this year and in many ways it’s like starting again with Rohan coming in and taking charge of his first game this weekend. We want to be as successful as we can be but we’re certainly delighted with Rohan’s early influence at the club.”

Hetherington, meanwhile, has had his say on the new 12-year partnership with global media brand IMG that was announced this week. The 12 Super League clubs broke away from the Rugby Football League, the governing body, in 2018 in a bid to increase television revenues and generate bigger commercial deals.

Yet the split did not have the desired effect and the latest broadcasting television deal with Sky Sports, which covers this season and next, was significantly reduced from the previous contract. In a bid to breathe new life into the 13-a-side code, top-flight clubs and the RFL have realigned and, after flirting with the prospect of private equity investment, a deal has been struck with IMG to lead a major restructure of the British game.

Hetherington added: “This is the most significant moment for rugby league since the game’s formation in 1895. Never before has rugby league had a global partner to plan its future and capitalise on the many advantages and opportunities the sport has but never really realised.

“We needed a strategic partner and now we have one in IMG. This partnership can propel the game to where it’s never been before. It’s hard to overestimate the significance of it.”



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