Exclusive: Rohan Smith on Leeds Rhinos’ performance of the season and top six chances

On an emotional night at Headingley Stadium celebrating Rob Burrow and the inspiring work he does in fighting MND, Leeds Rhinos delivered a great performance. After the game a happy Rohan Smith spoke to the press.

Here’s every word he said:

Overall thoughts

A really special night. Yeah this club does so much more than just worry about winning games in the way that everyone, the club and fans, paid tribute to Rob and his family. That was a fitting performance to acknowledge that.

Those people are doing things for the greater good, not just focused on the result of the game, but very pleased with how we played. More pleased with how we prepared and responded from a disappointing last showing that wasn’t up to standard, but we owned up to it and trained hard, trained with purpose, found a few solutions and you know a lot of things were good tonight.

Rob Burrow

I think it’s always difficult to put things down to one thing but I know a lot of players in there have got a friendship with Rob and those that don’t know what he’s done for the club and what he’s now doing for the MND community and just community in general, inspiring people to fight and do good things.

Certainly it might have helped a few of them for sure but I think it’s a fitting team performance. We didn’t overdo the emotion of the night. It was really important that we prepared well to perform well and it’s nice to be able to do it for Rob and his family.

Did he expect the result?

In this competition I don’t think you ever see a blowout score coming but a good performance I can always see coming. We’ve had a couple of disappointing performances but even in pretty much every game we’ve been right in there with a chance of a result.

In professional sport, if you’re in every game, you’re never too far away from something going your way. We need to perform more like a lot of the things we did tonight. Play better for longer is what I’ve been talking about, and that can generate enough results.

Good results like tonight reinforce or build confidence. For those that needed a reminder in and outside of the building that we are a good team, got that. Those that already knew sort of confirmed that. I’m one of the latter but for those that react and respond to results or single performance, you know, a week’s a long time and this competition this year, that’s great. People need to embrace that and enjoy that. You’ve got to play well to win and that’s something I’m glad, privileged to be part of that.

Blake Austin

Yeah, he had a good game for sure. He’s a handful carrying the ball and taking people on he’s very difficult to put down but he’s kicking and some of his passing and just had a good game. I’m not surprised like he’s a talented guy but I thought you know there was a good team performance if you went across the players tonight like who didn’t play well and that’s why you get a positive positive performance.

Repeat of 2022?

I’m a one week at a time type guy. And that’ll be the message, you know, we enjoy it. They’re listening to a few songs there and enjoying it now, but tomorrow we’ll start recovery and get ready for a battle at Warrington.

But, you know, as I said, for those that needed a reminder that we’re a good team in and outside the building, you know, there it was. For those who believed it and for those who didn’t after some bad results.

Players standing up to the pressure

Well, they would only know that if they listened to the press conferences, you know, I never mentioned that in the group, everyone knew that it was important. Every game, every game is in my head, it’s a mini grand final, but without trying to… You can’t build it up too much too often because if you do you burn people out. So getting that right level of anticipation and excitement is important. It was a big night and we played well against a team that are always difficult to break down.

Justin Holbrook links

I’m unaware of any of those comments that were made. I generally listen with music on in the background or I didn’t watch all of last night’s game live. I watched it on replay this morning. I was very impressed with the way Hull FC played and played with heaps of energy. For anyone that watched that game last night, they probably got a bit out of that in our group. To play with real intent can get you a good result against a good team. And I also feel for Justin Holbrook as well because I know he’s a very good coach and all the players that I know have been coached by him say he’s a terrific bloke and a terrific coach. It’s a tough business and I hope he’s okay.

Cam Smith injury

Yeah, we’ve been trying most games to give him some kind of break either side of half-time, but it hasn’t turned out that way in some games. We’ve needed him to keep playing. Today I saw the break and got him one and then he got a little bump to the knee two minutes after we went back on. So maybe we just need to leave him out there next time.

He’s in some doubt for next week, but I’m not quite sure of the severity. We’ve got recovery and review tomorrow, so we’ll know a little bit more then, but it’s usually sort of those type of injuries, usually 48 hours is the window to know whether you’re going to turn a corner or whether you know I don’t think it’s anything serious but yeah you’d have to be in some doubt for next week. Justin as well I’d say.

Perfect Performance?

There’s no such thing as perfect. Us coaches are chasing it and you know I think deep down actually fans want close hard games that are hard fought and go down to the wire deep down but that’s a nice reward for the fans that have that always turn out here in this place and our form here is generally been good away from home we’ve not found our best performances that’s the opportunity next week I think our attack was good, we had a good mix of playing in combination and running hard. Our kicking and chasing was of higher level and our defence was good, so the cycle I guess of complementary football that one part helps the other, that was a good example of that. Doing it more often, better for longer is what we strive to do now.

David Fusitu’a future

Updates will be given when there’s updates, but Fusitu’a has done a really good job with Fuss. He’s in better shape than he was. He was in good shape when he got hurt, but he’s in better shape now. He came back fit and ready and after, what was that, like 12 weeks or 10 weeks or something, to come back and play like that game one on a long shows the credit to him for the way he’s done that. That’s not easy to do and a lot of times players are just trying to get through that first game. He was into it from the start.

Yeah, he’s always been a great ball carrier. I’ve coached against Fus first in 2013 and he was one of the elite players of his age group in the NRL. He was in the elite wingers in the NRL at various times. So helping Foots to be consistent now is the challenge and the opportunity, but that was a terrific start for him. a terrific start for him.