Prolific winger Ryan Hall says Hull KR just “have to live with” Tony Smith’s shock decision – and keep powering on.
They host Wakefield on Saturday seeking a sixth straight win. But the Robins are still reeling from head coach Smith’s surprise announcement he will be leaving at the end of the season. He told unsuspecting players minutes before revealing his decision to the media on Wednesday.
England star Hall, who also worked under Smith for Leeds and the national side, said: “We were a bit shocked but that’s sport isn’t it? Always expect the unexpected. Things happen like that in sport.
“Things are going well in the team at the moment. We just have to live with it and move on at the end of the season. But let’s make the most of it while he’s still in charge and get the best out of us while he can.”
Smith has clearly helped transform the Robins’ fortunes over the last three years but hinted at disagreements with chief executive Paul Lakin as a reason behind his decision.
On the field, they’re flying having reached the Super League semi-finals for the first time last term and they face Huddersfield in a fortnight for a place in the Challenge Cup final.
Brad Takairangi, meanwhile, is in KR’s 21-man squad on Saturday for the first time since receiving a 12-month suspended jail sentence. The ex-New Zealand centre, 32, crashed into a police car as he drove the wrong way on a dual carriageway while drunk.
Asked what Takairangi’s frame of mind is like, Hall said: “Obviously, he’s got a bit going on in his personal life and he’s working on that. That’s got to be respected. You can’t expect him just to drop all stuff off the field to concentrate on rugby again.
“So it’s going to take him some time to get back to what he can do. But it’s good (his return) as he’s one of our overseas players and we’d like to think they’re in the better end of our players spectrum. He does have quality there. We just need to get that on the field.”
Whether Takairangi plays on Saturday, remains to be seen. But Wakefield, who have conceded 124 points when losing their last three games, are desperate to rediscover some form. Wakefield were hammered 34-4 at home to Castleford last Thursday before being thrashed 54-10 at Wigan on Easter Monday.
Rovers followed up their Good Friday derby win over Hull FC with a hard-fought 28-24 Easter Monday success in Toulouse. Hall, 34, admitted: “Wakefield have been on the receiving end of some bad results which is dangerous.
“Sometimes, you can be lulled into a false sense of security if you go in against a team who are rocking a little like that. You either take them lightly or we can go hard and really post a score like other teams have been doing.
“We’ve looked at some video footage but again that can lull you in as well. You can watch some vision about what they were doing in a game and sometimes they just won’t do that in the game you play them.
“The gaps against Wigan on Easter Monday just won’t be there. They might have been gotten into by their coach Willie Poching. Sometimes it’s really hard to read what the teams that are struggling are going to do. All we can do is prepare our best ourselves and try to play our way against them.”
Meanwhile, Robins captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall and second-row Kane Linnett have both been included in Ellery Hanley’s Combined Nations All Stars’ initial 29-man squad to face England on June 18.
Trinity winger Tom Johnstone – currently out of Shaun Wane’s England plans – is also named along with Wakefield team-mates Kelepi Tanginoa, David Fifita and Mason Lino.