Rohan Smith entered Headingley and took charge eight games into the 2022 season and from a starting position of 11th he managed to guide Rhinos all the way to the Grand Final as he made his mark on Super League.
The 2023 pre-season is well underway and the Super League opener featuring Smith’s Rhinos travelling to the Halliwell Jones to face Warrington is just five weeks away with Smith set to head up his first full season at Headingley.
During that turnaround period Smith leant on plenty of youth and his recruitment heading into 2023 has featured the acquisition of youngsters, but more importantly the extension of key names such as Cameron Smith.
There’s a clear focus on building for the future whilst still maintaining a challenge for silverware in the immediate future and that was something that was up for discussion on player agent Craig Harrison’s podcast Show Me the Money TV.
Harrison had guests Simon Bell, Head of Youth Development, and John Bastian, Player Pathways Development Manager, who both work at Leeds Rhinos on the podcast to debate the philosophy of Smith and both highlighted his off-the-field attributes.
“Rohan does it all the way through, those senior players they know that he values and cares about them. His door is always open, just as it is for the juniors,” Bastian explained.
“I’ve never come across a bloke that wants to spend the sort of time that he wants to spend with each individual to get the best out of them. What those players have to do is engage and be a big part of that because all of the staff are doing it as well.
“They’re mirroring what Rohan’s philosophies are and the staff are strong. The actual squad of players will only get better as they progress.”
Both Bastian and Bell have been around the Rhinos set up previously, having also worked elsewhere, and those years include working under the likes of Brian McDermott who brought the Super League trophy to Headingley on four occasions as head coach.
The significance of their praise towards Smith speaks volumes when you consider the achievements of the likes of McDermott and the history that they’ll have experienced during their time at Leeds.