Rohan Smith reflects on Leeds Rhinos’ disrupted prep for Kiwi clash and explains Blake Austin injury

Leeds Rhinos lost to New Zealand last night and conceded a huge 74 points in the defeat.

Despite this, it was nothing to ashamed of. The Rhinos were playing a team Rohan Smith described as “the best in the world” and were missing plenty of their own stars.

They are also two weeks into the off-season essentially and a bulk of the squad enjoyed a well earnt holiday the week after the Grand Final before returning this week to prepare for the clash with New Zealand.

Not ideal prep, when asked about the Rhinos disrupted preparation, Rohan Smith said after the game: “I think for any Super League team to be playing against a team like that at this time of year would be a struggle. We had a bunch of players unavailable for the Grand Final that still aren’t ready to play.

“Individually I thought there was a lot of effort, collectively and connectedness wasn’t there as you’d expected with disrupted prep.

“Disappointed we couldn’t have kept it a bit tighter.”

Disruption going into the game, Leeds suffered disruption during it as well when they lost stand-off Blake Austin to injury.

Smith revealed what happened to his stand-off after the game: “He got a poke in the eye, he got some blurred vision and it didn’t get back. So obviously no way he could play with that.”

Fortunately, it’s not the kind of injury which should impact his preparation for 2023 which is where Leeds’ focus no doubt lies after an emotional night last night as they said farewell to the likes of Tom Briscoe and Brad Dwyer.

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