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Rohan Smith: Leeds Rhinos coach steps down with immediate effect ahead of Super League match with Leigh Leopards

Leeds Rhinos and Rohan Smith have agreed to part ways; Leeds sit seventh in Super League after 14 matches and face Leigh Leopards on Friday; watch Leeds Rhinos vs Leigh Leopards live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action on Friday from 7pm (kick-off 8pm)

Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com - 29/06/2023 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 17 - Warrington Wolves v Leeds Rhinos - Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England - Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith
Image: Rohan Smith has left Leeds Rhinos

Rohan Smith has stepped down as Leeds Rhinos head coach with immediate effect ahead of their match against Leigh Leopards on Friday.

Smith joined the Rhinos in April 2022 and steered the club to the Super League Grand Final in his first year, having initially agreed a deal until the end of the 2025 season.

However, Leeds missed out on the play-offs last season and lost their seventh game of this campaign on Saturday in an 18-10 defeat to Hull FC.

They are currently outside of the play-off positions by four points and face Leigh this Friday at 8pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action.

"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 playoff spot, the supporters can get behind the boys and give them their support," said Smith.

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Leeds lost to Hull FC in what proved to be Smith's final game in charge

Leeds' match against Leigh on Friday will be their first at home since Rob Burrow died at the age of 41.

Burrow won eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cup trophies and three World Club Challenges at Leeds, while he also represented England and Great Britain internationally.

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"Friday will be a special night for the club and we wanted to remove the ongoing coaching speculation and distraction," continued Smith.

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Former Sky Sports commentator Eddie Hemmings reflects on the life and career of 'special talent' Rob Burrows

"Celebrating Rob's life, the great work done by the club and Kev [former long-time club captain Kevin Sinfield] 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.

"Unfortunately, I will not be Head Coach to see this development continue but I look forward to watching the clubs future successes and wish everyone at the club all the best for the future."

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Leeds and Hull FC pay tribute to Rob Burrow with a minutes applause ahead of the Rhinos' first fixture since his death

Leeds' assistant coaches Chev Walker and Scott Grix will be in charge on Friday night, with the club using the international break which follows to decide who will be the new head coach.

"It is always disappointing to lose a head coach especially someone like Rohan, who has done so much good work behind the scenes since his arrival two years ago," said Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington.

"At that point we were sat near the foot of the table but he re-invigorated us to reach the Grand Final with an incredible run of form. However, it is fair to say the Rhinos results and performances this season have not met all our expectations to get us back to where we want to be.

"The Board has a long term strategy for where we want the club to be in the future, which started with the appointment of Ian Blease as our first sporting director. Ian is now carefully considering our options moving forward before making his recommendations to the board."

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Blease added: "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."

Watch every match of the 2024 Betfred Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men's, women's, and wheelchair Grand Finals, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.

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