“Proud” Rohan Smith praises “brave” Leeds Rhinos and explains defeat to Toulouse

With just one specialist prop left available, both first choice halves out injured alongside skipper and hooker Kruise Leeming as well as star signing Zak Hardaker, things were always going to be tough for Leeds in France yesterday.

Add to that the sweltering heat, the late loss of Liam Sutcliffe to illness and you have a whirlwind of factors pushing against the Rhinos.

Unsurprisingly, they came away with a defeat but were admirable in their efforts and that was certainly the opinion of Leeds boss Rohan Smith who emphasised his pride after the game saying Leeds lost on “the scoreboard only” believing they matched the hosts in the game itself.

“I think it was a really hard-fought game,” Smith said, “Obviously, it was taxing conditions for both teams. I thought we were full of running at the end of the game so the players are buying into what we’re trying to do.

“We had tones of players pull out all week right up until kick-off. The young players in there, they’re brave. They’re tough. It was a good hard game of footy. I’m nothing but proud of that group in there.”

In fact, he laid the blame at his own feet saying he needs to develop the side more to be able to cope in the absence of senior halfbacks: “I need to do a better job to get our team to flow when our halves aren’t there. I need to do better with that. The effort, we kept turning up. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort.”

Smith will be hoping that the likes of Blake Austin, Leeming and Hardaker will be available next week.

There is also the curious case of on loan prop Yusuf Aydin who was brought in this week but was strangely absent yesterday.

You can watch the full press conference here:

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