Leeds Rhinos appoint Rohan Smith as new head coach
Rohan Smith succeeds Richard Agar as Leeds Rhinos head coach; the 40-year-old's previous coaching assignments have included spells at Bradford Bulls, Sydney Roosters and Penrith Panthers
Last Updated: 21/04/22 11:27am
Leeds Rhinos have appointed Rohan Smith as the club's new head coach on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
Smith, who has signed a deal until the end of the 2025 season, succeeds Richard Agar, who stepped down from the role in late March.
Smith joins the Headingley club from Queensland Cup Champions Norths Devils, while his coaching career has also included stints at Bradford Bulls, Tonga, Sydney Roosters and Penrith Panthers
The 40-year-old is the son of former Hull FC and Bradford coach Brian Smith and the nephew of former Leeds head coach Tony Smith, who confirmed on Wednesday that he will leave Hull KR at the end of the season.
Leeds have taken just three points from their first nine Super League games this season and are just a point above bottom side Toulouse, who travel to Headingley on Friday.
Smith said: "I am excited about the opportunity and really looking forward to getting back to the UK.
"The opportunity to be a head coach in Super League is something I have always aspired to do, especially with a club with such a rich history in the game and a proud tradition of developing talent through their academy.
"As a development-minded coach, when I look back on my career, the clubs that I have enjoyed working at most are those who develop their own and I know that is part of the Rhinos way.
Smith: I want to help players get better
"One of the best things about rugby league is the relationship you build with your players and I am looking forward to reconnecting with a number of guys I have worked with previously who are now at the Rhinos.
"But also I am excited about meeting and working with everyone else as well. I love coaching and helping players, young and old, to get better.
"As a coach you want to help them in their journey in their footy and in life and I am really looking forward to getting over to Leeds and starting to work with the guys."
Leeds Rhinos chief executive, Gary Hetherington, said: "We are extremely pleased to have secured one of the most exciting young coaches in the game at present.
"Rohan is highly regarded both here in England and Australia and is someone who is passionate about coaching and most importantly for us, excited about developing our players and a winning culture and environment.
"At the outset I stated this was one of the most important appointments in our club's history. It was vital that we spoke to all interested parties both here in England and overseas.
"Through that process, Rohan was an outstanding candidate for the role and I am personally delighted to have agreed the deal to bring him to Headingley.
Hetherington: Smith fits the bill
"Interestingly, Rohan is three years older than his uncle Tony when he became head coach of the Rhinos back in 2003 and I see many parallels in both their early coaching careers to this point.
"Rohan has vast experience having been part of various coaching teams over the last 20 years, working with people some of the biggest names in modern NRL coaching.
"We had two overriding criteria when selecting our new head coach. The first was that they must have had experience and success as a head coach and secondly have experience of working at the highest level in Super League or the NRL and Rohan fits the bill on both those fronts."
Jamie Jones-Buchanan has been coaching Leeds on a temporary basis since Agar's departure and will remain in charge for the club's next two matches.
Hetherington added: "On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to thank Jamie Jones-Buchanan and the rest of the coaching staff for the outstanding job they have done in difficult circumstances in recent weeks.
"Jamie will remain in charge of preparations for the team for our next two games against Toulouse and Hull KR to give the side continuity and stability for two crucial games.
"We hope to have Rohan with us as soon as possible once the relevant paperwork has been completed."
I think Tony Smith is a fantastic mentor of coaches. For him to go in with a family member and develop that relationship would be easy. The timing of it, it can't not be happening. The most logical answer is that Rohan Smith is going in with Tony Smith above him but we will see how that pans out.
Jon Wilkin on whether Tony Smith will return to Leeds
'Smith is inexperienced but Leeds fans should be calm'
Sky Sports' Jon Wilkin:
"I think Rohan Smith is a really interesting appointment and Leeds need something. He has a lot of experience but mainly in the background, not a lot of head coaching experience, so for me he is relatively inexperienced.
"If you have experience of being at 10 or 12 different clubs I think that gives you a broad take on how good coaching looks. He will be looking to put all that together.
"When St Helens announced Justin Holbrook after Kieron Cunningham departed, there was a similar sentiment amongst the fans of, 'who is this guy?'
"Justin Holbrook might be the best thing to have happened to St Helens so for the Leeds fans feeling that way, don't judge too soon, be calm about it.
"This guy wants to bring on junior players, something which has been part of Leeds' DNA for a long time.
"For them to get back to a position where they are going to win any trophies, they need to develop their own players. Recruiting from outside has been a car crash over the last few years."