Rohan Smith reveals how Leeds Rhinos will play in 2023

Rohan Smith is always a coach who looks to experiment.

The Leeds Rhinos boss sets up his side to play differently than most teams not expending as much energy as other teams in line speed but instead looking for triggers to start a football like press.

This is under the pretence that they back themselves coming out from their own end especially with metre making backs like Ash Handley, David Fusitu’a, Harry Newman and new man Derrell Olpherts.

In fact Leeds have two of the three top metre makers from 2022 in their squad for 2023 in the shape of Handley and Olpherts whilst Olpherts led the league for tackle busts.

Meanwhile, the Rhinos seem set to use short kick offs more frequently than their rivals in 2023 and Smith is experimenting with giving Morgan Gannon, one of the league’s best young forwards, minutes in the halves whilst he is also experimenting with Olpherts at centre.

All of this comes after he turned loose-forward Jarrod O’Connor into a brilliant number nine last season.

As the Rhinos took on Leigh Leopards on Saturday, Smith made an interesting decision as he swapped his halfbacks around.

Last year Aidan Sezer exclusively played on the left and Austin on the right but today Sezer moved to the right, despite being a left footed kicker, and Austin shifted left despite being right footed. Perhaps this is to create the benefit of kicking down the blind side and exploiting space behind defences early in the count.

When asked about this after the game, Smith revealed how he wants the Rhinos to play in 2023:

“To sum it up, I don’t want them playing on one side at all. Austin played both sides of the field. Aidan was more right sided but he was actually the first receiver with Austin swinging around there.

“I don’t want them to just play one side or the other. For whatever reason when they have played together at Canberra and here a bit they have gravitated towards left and right. It’s not something I have ever told them to do and I think it is a blemish on the game.

“I don’t know why left footed kickers go and stand left when it can sometimes be more beneficial to have them on the right.

“I don’t want us to be rigid and structured.”

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