‘A mini Grand Final’ – Leeds boss Rohan Smith braced for ‘pivotal’ Giants clash

‘A mini Grand Final’ – Leeds boss Rohan Smith braced for ‘pivotal’ Giants clash

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith has acknowledged his side face a “mini Grand Final” against fellow strugglers Huddersfield on Friday night amid increasing speculation over the 42-year-old’s future.

Rhinos limp into the Headingley clash sitting outside the play-off zone in eighth place and reeling from back-to-back defeats to Wakefield and Castleford, the Betfred Super League’s bottom two.

Ian Watson’s Giants have also struggled for much of the current campaign and go into the game in 10th place, with both clubs knowing a win is imperative if they are to mount a late push for a play-off place.

Wakefield Trinity v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Be Well Support Stadium
Leeds fell to a shock defeat at bottom club Wakefield two weeks ago (Nigel French/PA)

“It’s huge – it’s massive for both teams,” said Smith, whose arrival in April last year sparked his side’s rise from 11th to a fifth-placed finish and ultimately a spot in the Grand Final.

“We expect Huddersfield to be very hungry and it’s a mini Grand Final for both of us, coming off a week of reset. It’s a pivotal game for the season.”

The Rhinos’ staggering inconsistency has been laid bare in the last four games, with the dismal Wakefield and Castleford losses following an heroic 12-man win at Wigan and an injury-hit golden-point defeat to St Helens.

Warrington Wolves v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Halliwell Jones Stadium
Aidan Sezer is expected back from injury to boost Leeds (Martin Rickett/PA)

But, despite their alarming dip in form, Smith insists he has no fears over his job security and revealed he continues to have almost daily conversations with Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington.

“Gary and I talk a lot and are aligned with what we’re trying to create here,” added Smith.

“There’s no issues there. We chat every day about where we’re at – form, performance, recruitment and retention, and how we do things around the place that not dependent on last week’s result.

“Those chats happen every day and those chats will continue to be had.”