Exclusive: The former player who helped Leeds Rhinos appoint Rohan Smith & pull off one of their biggest signings ever

Sports clubs, certainly rugby league clubs, are often defined by the decisions they make on and off the field.

Leeds Rhinos’ golden generation can been seen through this lens. Chief Executive Gary Hetherington made a number of bold decisions to get Leeds on top and to keep them on top such as appointing Tony Smith to replace Daryl Powell after Powell had guided them to second in the league in 2003.

Some of the signings Hetherington made were statements to the rest of the league as well such as the acquisition of Jamie Peacock in 2006, the arrival of Brent Webb in 2007 and the signing of former Australia and New South Wales skipper Danny Buderus.

The Australian number nine had done it all down under and was one of the best players in the world in his prime and Leeds were able to tempt him to the club in what was a major coup for both the Rhinos and Super League.

That was just one of many big decisions Hetherington made when Leeds were at their best. Now he is striving to get Leeds to the top again and in 2022 made the big decision to bring in Rohan Smith a move which carried Leeds all the way to the Grand Final.

With these two decisions, the signing of Buderus which helped underpin Leeds’ success at the time and the appointment of Smith as they chase glory once more, Hetherington sought the opinion of a former player before pulling the trigger.

That man was former Rhino Matt Adamson who spent three years at the club from 2002-04 and has gone on to have a successful coaching career down under working with the likes of Craig Bellemy at the Melbourne Storm.

Speaking exclusively to Serious About Rugby League, Adamson revealed the conversatiins he had with Hetherington over these two big decisions.

“I remember when he signed Danny Buderus,” Adamson said of Hetherington, “Gary rang me and asked me what I thought and even did the same with the decision to appoint Rohan Smith.

“He rang me and I said, ‘Rohan is doing a phenomenal job and I think he’ll be the perfect person. He’s got the family connection, he knows what the club means.'”

Could Adamson, a member of the 2004 squad who ended Leeds’ wait for glory, have helped the Rhinos return to glory in the near future? Perhaps.

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