Blake Austin wants boss Rohan Smith to stay “embarrassed” – as it means Leeds Rhinos will keep winning.
The former Super League champions seek a third win in four games since the Australian took charge when they visit Huddersfield tonight. Rookie head coach Smith, 41, has quickly helped breathe fresh life into a confidence-drained squad that were flirting with relegation. Fellow Aussie Austin has certainly looked a different player.
The elusive stand-off had struggled after moving from Warrington in the off-season. But he looked a class act again as rampant Leeds thrashed his former club Wolves 40-4 last Friday. Austin, 31, said: “Only knowing Rohan for a few weeks, he’s probably a little embarrassed for getting mentioned so often about turning the place around.
“It’s a strange one. Every coach wants to speak about playing ‘eyes-up’ footy, throwing the ball around and playing what you see. But Rohan is the first guy who has offered some form of structure around that: he has a plan to create that style of footy. People see the way I play and they think I just like to get out there and express myself.
“But I’m the type of person who does need a structure. I need something to start from for clarity and peace of mind. Not everything’s been solved in just four weeks but he’s done a lot of things in a short space of time.
The boys are really enjoying Rohan’s ideas. One of his strengths is bringing everyone together and playing to each others’ strengths.”
Ex-Great Britain star Austin this week signed a new one-year deal with Rhinos to take him through to the end of 2023. He’d love to celebrate with another win but beaten Challenge Cup finalists Huddersfield are in great nick. Austin said: “Giants are the closest team to St Helens in that you can almost count on what they are going to do every week.
“They are very methodical and on the back of that guys like Tui Lolohea and Ricky Leutele can blow games apart. I think this is our biggest challenge to date.
“There’s a lot of buzz on the back of last week and rightly so as we played quite well. Top-six is the goal now and then anything’s possible. But we know we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Leeds, who welcome back star centre Harry Newman from injury, know only too well about Giants’ firepower. When they faced each other at Headingley in April, Rhinos led 20-10 with just three minutes remaining. But Huddersfield, whose hooker Adam O’Brien has signed a new two-year deal, scored two quickfire tries to send the game into extra-time and it ended in a draw.