Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith reveals what he said to Match Review Panel chief Paul Cullen

This week there have been plenty of talking points in the world of rugby league.

Most of them have focused on the ban handed to Leeds Rhinos star Rhyse Martin and the subsequent upgrade for a ‘frivolous appeal’.

In his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Leeds head coach Rohan Smith put out a strong case for Martin’s ban to be rescinded – and was keen to remind everyone just how strong he is on head knocks.

“I’m all for player safety in the way that I coach – any players will tell you that is the case. I take head knocks with the most caution that I can,” Smith said.

“When players do get head knocks I do always go above and beyond the return to play, but a lot are purely accidental and lack force.”

Smith also revealed just what he has said to Match Review Panel chief Paul Cullen in the past about the bans that are being handed out to some of his players.

“The game is a combat sport and without a gladiatorial element of battle, what is it? There are going to be some mistakes, as I’ve stated to Paul Cullen on the Match Review Committee, I think everything errs on the side of too harsh.

“Not was it high or an incident, it is all too harsh. For the good of the game we want our best players available unless they really do something that warrants something that makes them unavailable.”

Leeds go into tonight’s fixture at the Catalans Dragons without Martin, but also the injured Ash Handley whilst Harry Newman is 50/50 to start after recovering incredibly quick from a hamstring injury.

If the Rhinos are successful in the south of France, then Martin will still be unavailable for next weekend’s play-off semi-final given the upgraded ban.

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