Leeds Rhinos Update: Jarrod O’Connor on Coaching Change and Victory Tribute

Rugby League: Jarrod O’Connor Reflects on Rohan Smith’s Departure from Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos hooker Jarrod O’Connor has expressed his disappointment over the departure of former head coach Rohan Smith, stating that the team’s errors ultimately cost Smith his job.

Smith had guided the Rhinos to the Grand Final in his debut season, but the team missed out on the playoffs altogether in 2023. With an inconsistent start to the current campaign, the Australian parted ways with the club by “mutual consent” last week.

“As players, we let him down a bit. It was our errors that cost us games, nothing to do with Rohan in the end. His gameplan was all good, but we just let him down,” O’Connor told Love Rugby League.

Despite the shock of Smith’s departure, the Rhinos rallied together and produced their best performance of the season, securing an 18-10 victory against Leigh on Friday night. The win was particularly meaningful as it honored the late Rob Burrow, a beloved figure in the Leeds community.

“We’re relieved we managed to put that performance in for Rob and end the night on a high note,” said O’Connor. “We’re just over the moon and honoured we got to honour Rob in the right way.”

The new-look spine of the Rhinos, including Brodie Croft and Matt Frawley, combined well, contributing all three tries against the Leopards. Fullback Lachie Miller, captain Cam Smith, and O’Connor himself all put in standout displays, showcasing the team’s potential.

“That was the most our spine has clicked all year. With some of our attack, it wasn’t the usual planned stuff it was more off the cuff, and it was working a bit more. We looked after the ball a lot more than we have recently as well; we didn’t concede as many unforced errors tonight. I think tonight was a step in the right direction.”

The victory keeps Leeds in the hunt for a top-six finish, and they now prepare to face bottom-side London Broncos after the international break. Despite the concussion crisis currently affecting the squad, youngsters Alfie Edgell and Ned McCormack stepped up and impressed in the win over Leigh, earning praise from O’Connor.

“Alfie and Ned were outstanding. The whole team knew what they could do coming into it, but they’ve just proved themselves on one of the biggest nights they’ll play in for quite a while. We couldn’t have asked any more of them.”

If the team can build on their recent performance, the future looks bright for the young Leeds Rhinos squad.

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