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Rohan Smith leaves Leeds with the Rhinos struggling in Super League

Leeds head coach Rohan Smith has left the club by mutual consent after a poor start to the Super League season.

The decision comes four days after the Rhinos’ 18-10 loss to second-bottom Hull – their seventh defeat of the campaign.

Leeds appointed Smith in April 2022 and the Australian took them to the Grand Final later that year, losing 24-12 to St Helens at Old Trafford.

However, the Rhinos failed to make the play-offs for the first time in four years in 2023 and currently sit seventh in the table this term.

Leeds welcome Leigh to Headingley on Friday and assistant coaches Chev Walker and Scott Grix will now take charge of the side as they begin their search for a new head coach.

Smith admitted he did not want any coaching speculation surrounding Friday’s game, where the Rhinos will celebrate the life of Rob Burrow who lost his battle with motor neurone’s disease earlier this month.

He told the club’s official website: “I had always stated that it was a long-term project to establish a team that will be able to have sustainable success, and I believe that we have assembled a roster that can continue to push for a 2024 play-off spot, the supporters can get behind the boys and give them their support.

“Friday will be a special night for the club and we wanted to remove the ongoing coaching speculation and distraction. Celebrating Rob’s life, the great work done by the club and Kev for the MND community and playing well is the focus for Friday.

“I believe this team can still achieve great things and I am proud of the work that the coaching team have done to develop players, especially the next generations.

Leeds and Hull scrap in a Super League clash
Leeds suffered a damaging defeat to Hull on Saturday (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“Unfortunately, I will not be head coach to see this development continue but I look forward to watching the club’s future successes and wish everyone at the club all the best for the future.”

Sporting director Ian Blease arrived at the club last Monday and stated he would not “rush” into making any decisions but defeat to lowly Hull, who had previously won only once all season, increased the pressure on Smith.

Blease said: “Whilst I have only arrived at the club recently, I have seen from my meetings with the rugby staff and players how well respected Rohan is. We must manage this change carefully so the players can focus fully on their performances, starting this Friday against Leigh.

“My review of our rugby operation is ongoing and, clearly, the scope of those recommendations will now need to widen with Rohan’s departure. That process starts now to appoint a new head coach who we believe will be talented and suitable to take the club into a new era.

“Assistant coaches Chev Walker and Scott Grix will take the final training session of the week on Thursday and will be in charge on Friday night against Leigh. We then have no game next week for the international break so that will allow us to plan further into the future.”