Tony Smith has today confirmed that he will be leaving Hull KR.
He leaves the club after a monumental effort in bringing the Robins up from relegation strugglers to play-off contenders in just three years.
Smith had previously spoken of the ‘honour’ and ‘privilege’ he feels to have been involved in British rugby league as he reached 500 Super League games as a coach on Easter Monday when KR travelled to Toulouse Olympique in the Betfred Super League.
His journey in Super League began over 20 years ago when he took his maiden first-grade job at Huddersfield Giants.
Smith endured a difficult start to life as a coach, with the struggling Giants losing their first 15 games of his first full season at the helm which culminated in relegation in 2001.
However, he led them straight back up, going unbeaten in 2002 and it was these two years which insists helped him to enjoy the success he has had.
“I felt ready to be a head coach when I took over at Huddersfield,” Smith explained.
“I was young, brash and self-confident. I’d seen first hand what it took to be a head coach from my elder brother Brian, as well as four years as an assistant. I wanted a chance and got it at Huddersfield and I’m grateful for that.
“It was actually a former teammate of mine from St George, Jeff Hardy, who recommended me the role having been in caretaker charge.
“Huddersfield had managed to avoid relegation for a few seasons for varying reasons and it didn’t start well and in my first full season in charge we actually got relegated.
“I’ve actually spent time involved with football and the people in football cannot believe I didn’t lose my job after 15 straight losses. It blew their mind.
“In that season, I had some of these relationships I’ve had with players, whilst I received no grief from the club admin, bosses or spectators either.
“I remember drawing with London and it felt like we’d won the Grand Final.
“We really improved in the second half of the season and, if you split the season in two, as we did as a team, we actually finished sixth in the second half of the year in a pretty good competition which we were way behind in to start with.
“Then, we experienced the complete opposite the following year by going unbeaten.
“Brian said those two seasons would stand me in good stead for the rest of my coaching career and I didn’t realise then how right he was. I had to keep a team together which was struggling, then ensure the players kept level-headed the following year when we were undefeated and it was much less challenging. I was lucky in that way to have those experiences and it means I know how to go through tough times now.
“I’m not really one for milestones, but it’s an honour to do so and a real privilege to have been involved with the British game for so long. I hope that I have helped improved the culture of each club I have been at.”