Rohan Smith explains the surprise absence of two signings in defeat to Hull KR

There were a few surprise absentees for Leeds Rhinos yesterday as they lost to Hull KR.

Derrell Olpherts was expected to return after missing the Bradford Bulls game through illness and James McDonnell was named in the squad for the game but didn’t feature.

After the match, Rohan Smith explained that the former Wigan Warriors man was ill:

“He’s ill, he was desperate to play. He would have played but with a fever of 40 we did the smart move.”

Meanwhile, Olpherts needs to tick a few boxes before the ex-Castleford Tigers man can return to training.

Smith said: “H’s got a few things to check out but we’re expecting that he will be in full training soon.”

The implication was that Olpherts would be ready to go for Round One unlike Nene MacDonald with Smith confirming that the former Leigh Leopards man would miss the season opener against Warrington Wolves.

After the game Smith also gave his honest assessment of the defeat.

“If you’re looking for the polished, finished performance in a trail game, then you’re setting yourself up for a disaster,” Smith said.

“Good hit out but we definitely got outplayed but I would say we got a reasonable hit out and conditioning despite the repeated stoppages for injuries that didn’t bring about a replacement even on a day with unlimited interchanges.”

He also spoke about his team’s attack which didn’t seem to click in the way he would have hoped:

“I think there were four play one errors, you cant’ get any cohesion or flow. You make early errors or overplay your hand, but we know how we want to attack.

“We need to find the right balance between patience and passing the ball.

“It was a decent hit out I thought, we didn’t look tired. We tackled effectively for the most part.

“They scored with a couple of barge overs so that will be attended.

“They’re practice games and we are practicing what we want to do.

“We had some play the ball errors which has nothing to do with being expansive. We hardly had one last season and we had four last week so we’ll be playing the ball a lot this week.”

He did however say he expected better from his team in terms of execution:

“I’d expect it would be but today’s execution means nothing for next week’s.”

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