Hull KR chief Paul Lakin breaks silence on Tony Smith’s stunning call

A few months ago, the media were sitting down to take part in a pre-match press conference with Hull KR head coach Tony Smith.

What followed took everyone by surprise – the veteran Australian announced he would be leaving Craven Park at the end of the season, despite only being in contract negotiations in previous days.

For Hull KR chief executive Paul Lakin, the decision came completely out of the blue.

“It was chaos,” Lakin said on the Out Of Your League podcast.

“I didn’t know until I got a phone call from Neil (owner Hudgell) during the press conference.

“The announcement that Tony was leaving was a big surprise, but what wasn’t was our coach was out of contract at the end of 2022.

“So clearly my job was to start looking for new coaches, but we were having discussions with Tony about a longer deal.”

Much was made of the relationship between Lakin and Smith at the time, but the former has poured cold water on any kind of big fallout.

“If you’re asking me if myself and Tony have some big stand-out arguments, the answer is no, that’s not the case.

“Have we had disagreements? -Absolutely.

“In any sport, most CEOs and the head coach have different opinions, absolutely – but is there a moment where you can pinpoint a day where it was triggered? Not at all.”

Since that moment, Lakin and Rovers have moved quickly to find a new coach and appointed former Wigan Warriors player Willie Peters as the new man.

And, his NRL connections are already looking to bear fruit with Parramatta Eels centre Tom Opacic and Brisbane Broncos forward Rhys Kennedy being heavily linked with a move to East Yorkshire.

Lakin spoke of his excitement about bringing Peters to the club, stating: “We are really excited about Willie Peters, we have invested largely over the past few years in our younger players, and we play an expansive style of football that Tony has introduced.”

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